It's 3.00 am in the morning on the streets of Hunts Point in the Bronx. The women continue to risk everything for a few dollars. The men in cars pull over to the curb and for the right sum, only a little money, another world begins. They are of every age, and every race. At the end of the day they take off their masks and resume their lives. More dirty and ashamed as prostitutes, these women are mothers, wives, students, and sometimes all three.
Aicha El Hammar is an global artist who has been working on the subject matter of the sensitization of women for eight years using several artistic media. “Women have two choices, open your eyes and fight or be beaten...” Is prostitution a new way to get by in a society becoming more and more capitalist? For Aicha, the answer is and should always be no; however she does not condemn these women. For 2 years this internationally recognized artist has put together an ensemble film on each form of prostitution. In New York she was inspired by the women of the Bronx and the students of the great universities who turned to prostitution to survive.
This film was commissioned by an Argentinian producer, often associated with Benicio Del Toro, Christian Cardoner (To fool a Thief, The Reconstruction etc.) but was financed from prize money Aicha had won for her previous work in Belgium. The artist today lives in the United States after having obtained a diploma from Columbia University specializing in "Human Rights", but in particular the Rights of Women. “I worked on these subjects of victims for a few years … maybe even longer.” I opened my eyes and I saw women suffering but still strong.” In Burkina Faso she directed a premium documentary on 'disposed' widows, and in Hong Kong she worked with Filipino maids, who claimed equal rights in 2012. A highly talented artist in multimedia, she has a drive to do everything: "Like all women today, we need to know everything: how to work, earn a living, have a voice, and to no longer be ashamed."
One of the characters in “The Life of Jessica” is a 22-year-old Bosnian student named Nev. She failed to obtain tuition for university. She was a student of social sciences, yet she chose prostitution as a means of survival, while viewing her profession through a critical social lens. For Aicha, Nadia is primarily a victim: “I started reading books on liberal economics but I mostly encountered these women ... They are simply desperate but I maintain that there are other ways ... One can always find a way.” The objectification of the female body perpetuates this system. It is necessary to have more scholarships and equal pay for equal work to allow these women a chance to fight… In Argentina where the producer Christian Cardoner had discovered her documentary “The Lion in China,” she told him about this project supported by a Belgian prize money scheme. He viewed the project as particularly exceptional and guaranteed the purchasing of the rights. Aicha is full of dreams and nothing scares her, not even spending many nights alongside and earning the trust of these women. She met a member of the Red Umbrella association supporting prostitutes in NYC. After she was introduced with these women there were many tears and open signs of compassion, as well as the desire to help them all.
Not only is Aicha an advocate for women, but she is also a multidimensional artist. She is a leading producer at ABC news: Good Morning America, assisting in day-to-day operations. She is a graphic designer and editorial content supervisor. She is journalist and an artist, a champion of women rights and human rights expert.
BY: Mercedes Gallego