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One afternoon not long ago, Ada Trillo, an Elkins Park mother of two, found herself fleeing a Juarez, Mexico, brothel ahead of cartel members chasing her with guns. Trillo was raised in Juarez, but didn't learn about the plight of sex workers until As women went missing, girls as young as 15 arrived to take their place.
Trillo, 41, is a painter. This is her first photography exhibition. All proceeds will go to the Coalition Against Trafficking Women , an international relief organization, and the Mother Antonia Center of the Oblate Sisters of the Most Holy Redeemers, a center run by nuns who work with women fleeing the brothels.
Want to know what's going on in Philly? Find out about upcoming concerts, shows, and other events with our weekly newsletter. It happened kind of by chance. I wanted to do a work about immigration, to show the trajectory of the immigrants as they are trying to cross into the United States. But none of the coyotes, the smugglers, agreed.
And even if they would, the journey is done during the night, so a quality picture would require a flash. I would be basically exposing the people I wanted to help. Then I got a lead: Do you want to go the brothels? They took me to this part of town I wasn't familiar with, and I was shocked. So I kept going for three years. There was a woman, Mariana. I didn't expect a sex worker to look like her. Her arms are covered with heroin marks, and these started getting infected because she used whatever needles she could get her hands on.
She's been told if she doesn't stop, they will need to remove her arms. This was not what I pictured when I heard "sex worker. As I started investigating, I realized people all over the world have similar circumstances. I went to do photography in Kensington, and it was horrendous. I was almost raped. And I saw things I've never seen before: a sex worker that was pregnant, with heroin marks in her neck.