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Friday, 19 July, 2002, 20:48 GMT 21:48 UK
Argentine pensioners turn to prostitution
Generic sex trade
Grandmothers sell their bodies to feed their families
A documentary recently broadcast in Argentina has revealed how the grip of economic crisis has meant that many older women are now working as prostitutes in order to survive.

Speaking to BBC World Service, the Argentine film-maker explained how grandmothers have resorted to selling their bodies so that they can feed their families.


"90% of my clients are young men, which is good because I don't like old men"

Elderly prostitute
"Some of these mature prostitutes have been prostitutes in the past," explained Rolando Grana, "but what we found was a high percentage that had never done anything like this before."

Made by the Argentine channel, TV America, the television documentary revealed the plight of women like Alicia, who is in her 60s and currently working as a prostitute.

"I don't normally charge more than 20 pesos or the clients would be off like a shot," she told reporters.

"About 90% of my clients are young men, which is good because I don't like old men."

Dire straits

In better times, Alicia explained, she ran her own seamstress business, but since then "we have had some pretty terrible governments and all I have left now are two pairs of scissors".

Government figures produced earlier this year showed how Argentina's economy shrank by 16% in the first three months of 2002, plunging the country ever deeper into recession.

The decline of Latin America's third-largest economy caused a social crisis that engulfed the country.

Generic sex trade
Prostitutes were filmed using hidden cameras

"In my day things were very different," Alicia recalled.

"When your life is ok you judge people without thinking that maybe tomorrow you might have to do the same thing as them. It is easy to judge when your belly is full and your bed is warm."

Perverse

The documentary - filmed using hidden cameras placed around Buenos Aires - captured up to ten mature prostitutes working in the city square, Rolando Grana explained.

"Argentina is a very perverse society and ... this is a growing phenomena," he told the Everywoman programme.

"They are women who have lost everything. Who have no pension and the only thing that they can think of doing is overcoming embarrassment and prostituting themselves."

Commenting on the growing disparity between long life expectancy and adequate pensions, Grana's investigations also told of how the women came to work the streets.

"We came across a woman who worked as a prostitute so that she could afford medicine for her disabled son," he told.

"Many of them seemed almost happy or joyful, but once we started talking in depth then the pain came through."

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Argentinian prostitutes speak to Everywoman
"In my day things were very different"

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