“Mexico is a large source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Groups considered most vulnerable to human trafficking in Mexico include women, children, indigenous persons, persons with mental and physical disabilities, and undocumented migrants. Mexican women and children are exploited in sex trafficking within Mexico and the United States, lured by fraudulent employment opportunities or deceptive offers of romantic relationships. Mexican men, women, and children also are subjected to conditions of forced labor in agriculture, domestic service, construction, and street begging, in both the United States and Mexico.”- U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2012: Country Narratives: J-M
Intern Leili is a world traveler and global studies major. She recently spent time in Mexico on a mission trip and shares her experience below along with her thoughts on trafficking in Mexico.
Some statistics on Mexico:
- Mexico is a Tier 2 country in the 2012 TIP report. Tier 2 Countries are those whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards (U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2012)
- 20,000 People are affected by Human traffickers 16,000 of them are minors (Business Mexico Online)
- 51.3% of the people live below the poverty line (CIA, The World Factbook, “Mexico”)
- 70% of sex trafficking cases were linked to drug gangs (Charles Parkinson, InSight Crime, “Drug Cartel Control Feeding Mexico Sex Trafficking”, 2013)
When visiting Mexico for a church mission trip a week ago, I met strong women with children although the fathers of these children were almost always not in the picture. One woman, whose house my team was finishing, shared her testimony with us. Her husband abused her, and he went through a life of drug use and selling drugs. Despite the difficulties of her life, this woman was amazing and so strong. Because of her past, she didn’t feel worthy of good things. However, after becoming a child of God, she finally felt worthy of everything good that happened in her life.
Her testimony made me think about how much trafficking actually goes on in Mexico and how closely is it related to the drug gangs. With the high amounts of drug cartels in Mexico, human trafficking crimes have risen as more and more people go into the drug trade. In an article on Insight Crime, these drug dealers make at least $10 billion from sexual exploitation of both women and girls (Parkinson 2013). These women are taken with the promises of a better life and some with love and marriage.
Like many trafficking cases the women rescued talk about the horrors they went through while being held in captive. CNN ran a story, in which a young girl tells her story of what she went through and witnessed and while she was held in captivity. She tells about how the young girls are drugged, forced to become prostitutes, and later murdered. This was a tactic to keep the other captives in line and not attempt to escape.
Most of the people living in Mexico live below the poverty line. This was evident in the town we stayed in on our mission trip. In San Vicente only the main road going in and out of town was paved. Every morning, when we were going to start our day, we would pass lines of people. Their faces were covered with clothing or bandanas, and they had their buckets in hand ready to get on the buses to go off to the fields to work. This little town of San Vicente is full of hard working people. It was really humbling to be around them. With all the hard work the people do, they still don’t make much in a day. Knowing this, it is easy to see how human traffickers can reel people in with false promises and lead them into a life of pain, drug use, and so much fear.
Photo above adapted from “A photo of Tijuana, MEX” by Dong Ramirez used under the Creative Common Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, found on Wikimedia Commons.