Marie Jessy: "I don't want someone my age, only older men can help me"

« Je ne veux pas faire ce genre de travail, je veux finir mes études » (Kristy Siegfried/IRIN)

Marie Jessy*, 16, lives in Carrefour, a poor, densely populated neighbourhood in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. She resorted to sex work when she became homeless in February 2008, but has been given support and training in alternative ways to earn an income at a centre run by the Foundation for Reproductive Health and Family Education (FOSREF), a local NGO that focuses on preventing HIV in young people and sex workers.

"My mum just kept me for two months, then she gave me to another woman. Until I was 12 I lived with this woman, then I went to live with my aunt. But in February, she put me outside.

"I don't have difficulty finding a place to stay because I'll stay with a guy and the next day he'll give me some money; but I'm hoping to find someone special so I can stop this, otherwise, before I'm 18 I'll be finished already. I don't want to do this kind of work, I want to finish school.

"At this moment I have a place to stay with a boyfriend, because I don't see a way to live on my own. I don't have anyone, just this guy, and the people from the [FOSREF] centre are my family.

"I had a friend that took me here [to the FOSREF centre] and I felt this was a good place; I feel like this is a family for me because they talk to us about the weird things we observe outside, and HIV/AIDS and other bad things that could happen. They explain what could happen to us if we don't take precautions. I really feel I have a home, even though I don't sleep here.

"I always use condoms because that's the key of my life. There was one guy that forced me and didn't use a condom, that's why I did a [HIV] test the first day I came here [to the centre], but I was negative.

"Most guys outside aren't good. I want someone who can help me; I don't want someone my age. The guy I'm with now is 32. People ask if he's not my father or older brother, but that doesn't bother me because I need his help; I'm obliged to accept being with him."

*Not her real name


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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