Venezuela's failing economy has women commuting to nearby Colombia— where prostitution has not been criminalized — for quick paydays.
Fusion spoke to several women who have traveled to Cucuta, Colombia, a busy border town, in search of sex work. A 21-year-old woman named "Jennifer" told the site that prostitution provides the income she needs to raise a two-year-old son. "I have my own business in Venezuela," she revealed. "But, you can't make any money there. With a week of work here, I can make more than I can make there in a month."
She charges the U.S. equivalent of $22 for 20 minutes of sex, a standard going rate. In Venezuela, where the monthly minimum wage stands at $21, women can subsist on a weekend of work in Colombia.
Sofia, an architecture student from Merida, Venezuela, makes around $400 in a single weekend. However, she has always seen Colombia as her workplace and Venezuela as her home.
"I've already bought some land in Merida, where I can build a house," she told Fusion's Manuel Rueda. "If I make money here and spend it in Venezuela, I'm better off, by far."
Although Colombia tolerates prostitution, authorities will not issue health certificates to sex workers who do not have proper documentation to work in the country. In an effort to curb the spread of STDs, Colombian authorities often raid brothels and deport undocumented workers.
However, the threat of deportation doesn't exactly deter women from continuing their sex work. After all, the two countries are separated by nothing more than an international bridge.