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Her photographs on the walls of the Twenty-Two Gallery in Philadelphia are haunting. Aguero alerted the pimps and drug dealers that Trillo was just an artist with a camera and not a threat. They granted Trillo and her friend Blanca Cerceda fifteen minutes with each woman, but they saw some of them repeatedly over the span of three years.
But their ordeals are not unique to Mexico. Patterns of their lives and lost dreams are tattooed on their bodies along with scars, testaments of the deaths some escaped. After all, the photographer was there with each woman; touched her, smiled at her and thanked her for her time.
Surely, hope is part of the photography session, a knot at the end of the rope that could bring her back to safer shores. Most were sex trafficked as teen girls, around 14 or 15 years old. Some spoke of childhood rapes by stepfathers and other men charged with caring for them.
With one exception, the women are all of Indigenous descent, including from the Tarahumara people, and endowed with rich brown hues in a country that values white skin. Many speak of chronic life-threatening illness, grief and deep pain that leads to self-medication with an array of opioids and alcohol.
The majority are mothers and all, someone's daughter. There is Alejandra , who proudly told Trillo she exceeded her two-year life expectancy after a late diagnosis of untreated colon cancer. And Sandra, a mother of four, with stunningly expressive brown eyes who holds up a condom to the camera.