Category Archives: Women

Nina’s story: prostitution and recovery

In a new audio report at Gapers Block, Sarah Ostman tells the story of “Nina,” the first woman to enter the WINGS program, which offers treatment services for women facing prostitution charges in Cook County.

Nina began selling sex at age 13, after becoming addicted to cocaine.  That’s the typical age that girls enter prostitution, according to Jody Raphael of DePaul University.  At first it seemed glamorous, Nina says – then the violence began.  Over 33 years, she served three prison terms and numerous stints in jail.  She had seven children and lost custody of all of them.  She tried several times to get sober.

Along with new state laws protecting underage girls and sex trafficking victims, the WINGS program reflects a new understanding of prostitution, long considered a victimless crime.  Most prostitues were coerced into the industry at a young age.  And if prostitutes are more victims than criminals, perhaps they should get treatment rather than prison time, Ostman says.

We follow Nina through work readiness sessions at the Career Advancement Network, some of which are emotionally charged – and to a graduation ceremony for the program, where the women sing “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now.”

A year later, she’s yet to land a job – she volunteers at a food pantry in Back of the Yards – and has faced a number of challenges, including the threat of foreclosure and utility cutoffs.  But she’s got a suportive fiance, she’s reconnected with her mother, and she’s developing relationships with her children.  And she’s committed to staying sober and working toward her goals.

Entre Nosotras

Entre Nosotras, a multimedia blog by Radio Arte, has been publishing posts on Latina youth artists, activists and issues since September, focusing on news from Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards, Bridgeport, and Brighton Park.   Portions have also appeared in Hoy and Extra, and several programs have been broadcast on WRTE.

Topics covered range widely.  There are interviews with artists like young painter Angelica Atzin and photographer Jackie Oroczo, videos of local artists and musicians participating in Little Village’s Villapalooza, and a report on young designers in the Latino Fashion Show.  There’s a report on El Cilantro, a blog for young environmental activists, and an interview with educator and activist Veronica Arreola, producer of the Viva La Feminista blog.

There’s an interview with a survivor of domestic violence, discussing her new-found freedom, and a piece with members of the Vida Fidei youth group discussing spirituality.  There are pieces on STDs and how fast food industry marketing targets young Latinos.

The series is produced by a team of young women from Radio Arte’s media training program, which gives the basics of journalism and radio production to hundreds of local youth each year.  Broadcast on 90.5 WRTE FM since 1997, Radio Arte is currently transitioning to digital broadcasting and programming; it will be one of the first Latino media centers in the nation.

Entres Nostros plans further coverage of a range of health isssues – from breast cancer and obesity to teen pregnancy and mental health – as well as efforts to encourage girls to enter the sciences, and a feature on young Latina bloggers (and how to blog).  So stay tuned.


Thanks for Diana Pando of Community Media Workshop for translation assistance.