WEIGHT: 64 kg
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Cony's usual work clothes are tight-fitting outfits that show off her curves as she waits for clients at the bar. Cony — short for Concepcion Jarquin — learned early on to survive in a hostile world, and now hopes to use her street sense to help others defend themselves. Raped by a neighbour at age six, she dropped out of school in shame and left home to escape the rebukes of her mother, who blamed her for what happened.
Forty years and countless humiliations later, this lively, smiling woman is studying part-time in a conference room at the Supreme Court to learn the basics of the Nicaraguan civil and criminal codes. She will then be sworn in to act as a liaison between residents of her impoverished neighbourhood and an often inaccessible justice system. It is part of a broader initiative that has trained 4, facilitators across Nicaragua in the past 17 years to mediate in neighbourhood conflicts — arguments between neighbours, disputes over money, etc — or get help from support groups or the police in more serious cases.
The programme has been so successful at reducing the caseload of the overburdened court system that eight other Latin American countries have adopted it. For Cony, it is a chance to serve her community and regain some of the dignity lost doing her other job.
Cony, who has light brown skin and delicate features, turned to prostitution to raise her two children, and continues working to support her three grandchildren. Often they are abused by clients, targeted for rapes and muggings, have no health care and face discrimination by the police.
Another woman taking part in the course, Alondra — her name has been changed at her request — described the horrors sex workers can face. The year-old, who does not earn enough to make ends meet in her day job as a housekeeper, said she hopes to help others escape the abuse she has faced.