By Amy Lieberman
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Central American female migrants seeking a better life in the United States risk huge dangers as they pass through Mexico. Human rights researchers say their chances of getting a humanitarian visa for what they suffer are almost non-existent.
"Abuses are conducted by authorities, as well," said activist Patricia. "So if you are assaulted you wouldn't want to report the crime because then the police would take you as their victims and that would be far worse, I'm sure…The police will pick you up and you know you aren't coming back. They don't care if you are a woman, a child or a pregnant woman. If you are a pregnant woman they might even treat you more violently."
In 1990, Patricia traveled for more than three months from Tiquisate, Guatemala, to reach Mexico City. It was enough time, she said, speaking through a translator, to "see everything."
That included the sight of sleeping women being plucked from their train compartments and police sweeping in on horses and carting off groups of women, leaving male migrants to die on the road from brutal beatings with wooden batons and metal chains.
It also included her own narrow escape from being kidnapped by a Mexican man who picked her and her sister up from the side of a main road in his truck and then tried to sell them in a brothel.
Patricia, now 39, works as a housekeeper in Mexico City, living a modest but peaceful life with her husband and their two children.
She never reached the United States--her original destination--but her story mirrors what approximately 100,000 Central American women go through annually, according to the International Organization of Migration.
In 2006, 23 out of 90 migrant women, about 25 percent, interviewed in a migrant detention center by researchers with Without Borders said they had suffered some type of violent assault, including sexual violence.
Many researchers say these numbers seem low, and Amnesty estimates that this incidence is closer to 60 percent. Thirteen of the women who told Without Borders about being attacked said a state official was responsible.
These attacks most often occur in the Mexican southern states of Oaxaca, Veracruz, Tabasco and Chiapas, according to Amnesty International.
Amy Lieberman is a freelance journalist based out of the United Nations Secretariat.
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