Friday, 8 July 2011

Women of Spirit: Forced to Be Sex Slaves in Mexico


Forced to Be Sex Slaves in MEXICO

Imagine being called “merchandise” and being forced into prostitution after you have been tricked into making the dangerous journey across Central America in the hope of a better life before being stopped en route in southern Mexico and forced to work for nothing.
This was the nightmarish reality for migrants. When Patricia Villamil, the Honduran counsil in Mexico’s southern Chiapas state took on her job last November, she alerted local authorities to several cases. When they failed to respond, she spoke out.
They bring women from Honduras, preferably under 18,” Villamil said. She had already recorded a dozen cases of minors between 14 and 17 years old who were being forced into prostitution. “They steal their innocence. They hit them, mistreat them, humiliate and rape them.”
It seems like they target the poor areas. Witnesses stated that they route started in these communities in Honduras before crossing the border into Mexico. The girls are distributed like merchandise among several dozen bars and brothels in Chiapas. One victim, a 17 year old Honduran named Valeria ended up in Mexico after following that route. A single mother who travelled with a friend and four other minors believed that she was taking a free trip and would have a job in a restaurant in Mexico from a woman from her village. Imagine her shock when she arrived at a sordid bar in Mexico where she was forced to drink 17 beers to give her the courage to face clients on her first night as a prostitute.
I had to deal with it every time a client wanted it. It was six or seven times almost everyday. Once it was 12 times,” she said of her ordeal. The owner of the bar demanded 5,000 pesos for the journey that was supposed to be free of charge. Eventually another bar owner paid the debt but for a price—she had to work for him in return.

After Valeria has worked four months for up to 16 hours, she has not received any money. According to Enrique Mendez, the prosecutor in charge of crimes against immigrants in Chiapas state, “Generally they don’t pay minors. They give them food and clothes and build up new debts for them.”
Mendez denied that organized criminal groups were operating in the area, and said most girls arrived independently in Chiapas, on a route taken by hundreds of thousands of migrants hoping to reach the United States each year.
But the consul and victims said bar owners sought new supplies of young girls, who arrived in groups of five or six.
Yes, there’s people trafficking but not in an alarming manner,” Mendez admitted in his office in the border town of Tapachula.
There is a lot of prostitution, particularly of minors,” he added.
The consul and activists for immigrants’ rights blame authorities for minimizing the problem. “Here in Chiapas, everyone knows what’s happening,” the Honduran consul said. “I don’t care if the government is bothered that I say it. I’m not going to shut up until they do their job” (
The authorities need to take what is happening to these girls seriously and arrest the bar owners for prostitution. These people are exploiting these girls and the government is complacent. The government needs to do its job. Until they do, we can speak out like the Honduran counsel. We won’t shut up until the government takes action to protect these girls and end the sex slavery in Mexico.

These girls are not “merchandise“, they are people with rights.

They need to be protected from the people who profit at their expense–both the traffickers and the clients! Take Action!

Adele Butler, A Celebration of Women 2011


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