Zona Norte, Tijuana
|Neighborhood of Tijuana|
|Colonia Zona Norte|
Zona Norte (officially colonia Zona Norte, "North Zone (neighborhood)") is an official neighborhood as well as a red light district located in Tijuana, Mexico. It is the largest red-light district in North America known for its brothels, street prostitution, and illicit drug sales. Due to its proximity to San Diego, California, it is frequented by US citizens as well as locals. The district is also known La Coahuila for the name of the primary avenue that runs through it.
Zona Norte is bordered by Downtown Tijuana (Zona Centro) on the south, Zona Río on the east, the Mexico–United States border on the north, and colonia Castillo on the west. Politically, the Zona Norte neighborhood is part of the Delegación Centro (Central Borough).
Prostitution is permitted in Tijuana's North Zone, designated a Zona de tolerancia, or "tolerance zone". Legal prostitution within the city requires sex workers to obtain a permit and be subjected to monthly health checkups. Brothels in Tijuana, many of them modeled on strip bars and hostess clubs, must also conform to certain health regulations, such as standards of cleanliness, fixed operating hours and be placed a regulated distance from schools or day-care centers.
In addition to established brothels, there are prostitutes who work outside on the "callejones" or alleys and are referred to as paraditas, Spanish for "the standing girls", for the habit of standing on the streets to advertise their services. Paraditas have been regarded as part of Tijuana's cultural history, and attempts to force the women off the streets to curb such public advertising have proven unpopular and unsuccessful. These street workers are either illegal prostitutes who do not have permits, or legal prostitutes who simply prefer the relatively quiet environment of the street to the loud music and smoky atmosphere of the bars.
Prostitution of children is a problem in Tijuana's Zona Norte, both in the form of voluntary acts as well as illegal child trafficking. Voluntary prostitution by children, often referred to as survival sex in order to obtain a warm meal or a place to sleep for the night is prevalent in the area. Often these children are smuggled across the border into San Diego and other nearby areas.
Michael Hemmingson's ethnographic study, Zona Norte: The Post-Structural Body of Erotic Dancers and Sex Workers in Tijuana, San Diego, and Los Angeles, found that many of these girls lie about their age, saying they are 19-22, and do not work the streets, but special brothels. The study suggests much of trafficking claims are exaggerated by organizations with political, moral, and religious agendas.
Illicit drug sales are prevalent in Zona Norte, and consequently there is a significant police presence there.
- Official map website of the Tijuana city government
- Cearley, Anna (October 11, 2004). "From the street to discreet". San Diego Union-Tribune.
- "Tijuana tries to make prostitution safer". The Arizona Republic. September 15, 2005.
- Marosi, Richard (January 23, 2005). "Prostitutes in Tijuana fight, beat City Hall". Los Angeles Times.
- Guillén, Manolo (March 5, 2006). "Trafficking in Children". The San Diego Independent Media Center.
- Azaola, Elena (June 2000). "Boy and Girl Victims of Sexual Exploitation in Mexico" (PDF). UNICEF.
- "U.S.-Mexico bridge proposal draws mixed reviews". San Diego Business Journal. February 4, 2002.
- Zona Norte, photographs by Chris Bava, Sensitive Skin magazine #9, published December, 2012