Before they can reach the American Dream, many migrant women have to survive a Mexican nightmare. A staggering 80 percent of Central American girls and women crossing Mexico en route to the United States are raped along the way, according to directors of migrant shelters interviewed by Fusion.
That’s up from previous reports by non-profit organizations like Amnesty International that estimate the number at 60 percent.
“Women and girl migrants, especially those without legal status traveling in remote areas or on trains, are at heightened risk of sexual violence at the hands of criminal gangs, people traffickers, other migrants or corrupt officials,” the 2010 Amnesty International report stated. “…Many criminal gangs appear to use sexual violence as part of the “price” demanded of migrants. According to some experts, the prevalence of rape is such that people smugglers may require women to have a contraceptive injection prior to the journey as a precaution…”
Detective Gabriel García, a prosecutor and investigator based in Huixtla, Chiapas, says certain parts of the migrant trail are hot spots for assault.
One of these spots is La Arrocera, where rape is so common women and teens plan for it, García says.
“There have been times where women will take contraceptives beforehand, so if they become a rape victim, then they won’t end up pregnant,” he told Fusion during a recent tour of the area.
Still, exact numbers are hard to come by.
“I think almost all of the women are abused on the way north,” said lawyer Elvira Gordillo, who helps trafficked migrant women who get trafficked into prostitution. She’s lived and worked in Frontera Comlapa, along the Mexico-Guatemala border, for over a decade. “[These migrants] know the price to pay for getting to the United States. The price is being sexually violated.”
Perpetrators can be coyotes, other migrants, bandits, or even government authorities.
“We have active cases here of officials who’ve been detained and are facing criminal proceedings… for abusing the vulnerable migrant women specifically,” said Alejandro Vila, head of a special prosecutor’s office in Chiapas dedicated to investigating and prosecuting crimes against migrants. “We’ve seen that for woman crossing alone, the risk of becoming a crime victim increases significantly.”
Vila’s office, whose jurisdiction ends at the Chiapas state line, is unique in Mexico, standing slightly at odds with Mexico’s national migration agency, which is largely dedicated to catching and deporting migrants.
That’s why the statistics for rape and sexual assault are so fuzzy. Almost all migrants crossing north don’t have permission to be in Mexico, so reporting a crime to the authorities means risking deportation. Other victims are ashamed to admit they’ve been brutalized.
Sex is also seen as an economic exchange or form of payment; a physical “currency” for those women who lack the cash needed to pay bribes or “protection” fees on the journey north.
“Of course we know about this —how could we not?” said Vila. “There are cases where women offer their bodies in exchange for being able to cross over.”
The arrangement is so common there’s a slang term for it—”cuerpomátic,” or “cuerpomático” (an apparent wordplay on Credomatic, a Central American credit-card processing firm), which means to use one’s body — or cuerpo — as a source of currency.
The situation becomes even more alarming given the recent..
To read full article: http://fusion.net/justice/story/desperate-raped-migrant-women-face-sexual-assault-mexico-1037738