Prostitution has burst its traditional boundaries — the zona de tolerencia along Calle Coahuila and its environs — and is expanding into new territories throughout Tijuana.
Frontera reports that at least four more districts are exhibiting an increase in such activities, although in these new areas the practice has yet to be officially recognized. The neighborhoods of La Mesa, Paseo del Guaycura, El Florido, and Mariano Matamoros have engendered their own zonas rojas (red zones).
Economic woes are blamed for the sudden surge in prostitution stats. Lack of employment is luring many a female into being a sexoservidora. Another reason given for the expansion onto new turf is that customers don’t have the time to travel to downtown TJ and the Zona Norte. The majority of the new trade is located in the eastern part of the city, where prostitutes hang out at bars and consummate their transactions in adjacent motels.
Victor Clark Alfaro, director of the Binational Center for Human Rights, points out that the new zonas are not officially recognized and thus are fraught with the potential to incubate disease and foment crime. He points to the “official zona” along Coahuila, where women are given regular health inspections and the area is heavily policed. Alfaro estimates that of 5500 sex workers, only about half are legally registered with the health department.
A mobile health unit has been dispatched to service wayward sex workers in the 32 bars located in the Zona Este. Angel de la Torre Casillas, municipal director of health, stated that those who contract with a sexoservidora should ask to see her health card before indulging.