Many immigrants from Mexico dream of moving to the United States where they will be able to obtain a job, earn a paycheck, and support their families. Due to the fact that working as an undocumented immigrant is not unheard of in this country, many Mexicans decide to take a risk and pay a “coyote” to illegally transport them across the border to the United States. Although this plan goes accordingly for many immigrants, others are not so fortunate. They reach the United States only to be told that their transportation fees have been increased and then end up being hard-pressed into forced labor or prostitution in order to pay their debts. These immigrants left their homes and families in search of a better life, and ended up falling victim to human trafficking.
This report will outline the international human rights framework that applies to sex trafficking, explain Mexico’s role as a sex trafficking hub, and discuss the lived experience that victims of sex trafficking face. The report will conclude with an analysis of the political, legal, and social factors that could be reformed to minimize sex trafficking in Mexico as a human rights violation.
More specifically, sex trafficking in Mexico is carried out largely by networks of individuals and families who rely on or supplement their incomes with profits gained from forcing women into sex work. Migrants, poor women, and women from rural areas are in situations that are somewhat easily exploitable by traffickers. These groups often enter trafficking hub cities such as Tijuana and Tenancingo alone or with few resources and they can often be coerced with ideas of big-city opportunities. It is somewhat a norm in certain cities in Mexico for young men – and sometimes women – to become traffickers and pimps. Once the trafficker or pimp has coerced the women into trusting them, they use violence to force the women to perform sex work. These events take place in part because there are many migrating people in Mexico, making them vulnerable. There is also a strong tourist relationship with the United States that provides demand for the industry and incentive for traffickers to continue. In some ways many of the victims are voiceless after exiting the trafficking, as they are often psychologically traumatized as well as isolated from their communities.
Much of the sex trafficking that occurs in Mexico eventually leads the victims to the United States. Mexico is very frequently the last stop before women and girls are smuggled into the United States so that they can be sold to vendors such as brothels. Later this report discusses that it is also the responsibility of the United States government to develop policies and programs that diminish the amount of sex trafficking between the two countries, as well as mitigate the effects of this traumatic experience. More specifically, the report asserts that deportation policies need to be altered so that victims do not have to fear revealing the truth about their experience to the authorities in fear of being sent back to even more inhuman conditions at home. Additionally, this report will call for programs to be established that help victims recuperate from what they have been through. This report emphasizes the need to focus on the human rights abuses and the plight of the individuals, rather than the desire to reduce migration to the United States.
From an international perspective, sex trafficking is a human rights violation because it not only breaches multiple articles of the UDHR but because an entire UN Protocol was constructed as a means of combatting this humanitarian crisis. In addition, on the state level, sex trafficking is a complex issue within Mexico because prostitution, which is what most trafficked victims are forced into, is not technically illegal within Mexico and is what makes prosecuting sex traffic crimes all the more precarious. In addition, despite the fact that Mexico has recently implemented multiple laws and programs to combat human trafficking, and prevent the sexual exploitation of minors, many of these laws and programs are unsuccessful due to a lack of funding, inadequate training for prosecutors and because of the many ambiguities that still exist between Mexico’s state and federal laws. As a result, this report will demonstrate that large scale reforms in both international laws on sex trafficking and localized laws within Mexico and the U.S. need to take place so that these human rights violations can be more adequately punished and prevented.
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This video was published in May 16, 2013 by Ali Jazeera English. This video is extremely relevant to our Dossier because it speaks about Tenancingo as a major sex trafficking hub, it relates the process of how girls are forced into the sex trafficking industry, discusses the experiences that victims face while in the sex trade business, and it touches on Mexico’s attempts to implement anti-sex trafficking laws which are ultimately ineffective.
By Kristina Munoz, Wren Greaney, and Nona Bhatia