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  • In five of Mexico's 17 states, 3,174 women were reported missing, with traffickers primarily targeting girls aged between 10 and 17.

    In five of Mexico's 17 states, 3,174 women were reported missing, with traffickers primarily targeting girls aged between 10 and 17. | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 December 2017
Opinion

The National Observatory said girls are not chosen at random and are usually abducted from public transport stations. 

Human trafficking in Mexico has skyrocketed in the past year, with at least 3,000 women reported missing and social organizations predicting the number of victims will continue to soar over the next 12 months.

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In five of the country's 17 states, a total of 3,174 women were reported missing. Traffickers are primarily targeting girls aged between 10 and 17 years, according to the National Citizen Observatory of Femicide (OCNF).

"When minors disappear, they put us on red alert: in Mexico City and Jalisco they are minors between 10 and 17 years old; the average is 15,” OCNF Coordinator Maria de la Luz Estrada said.

"For us, it is very important that they tell us how many people have been found and communicate what's happening because, as we see it, the girls have to be examples for others."

All too frequently, Estrada said, authorities are simply dismissing incidents of forced disappearance as girls eloping with their boyfriends.

The National Observatory said girls are not chosen at random, but rather after days or weeks of careful research and they are usually abducted from public transport stations.

The state of Puebla is notorious for its high rate of abductions: numerous incidents culminate in dead ends, allowing the perpetrators to continue their crimes without fear of reprisal.

"I do not feel safe even when I'm at home because I no longer trust the police, and just walking through the streets feel the violence because of the way men look," said Rosa Delfado Alvarez, a teacher in Acapulco, where 144 femicides have so far been reported this year, making it one of Mexico's most dangerous cities for women.

"This sends a serious message of impunity: the message is that in Puebla you can kill a woman and nothing happens," said De la Luz.

"Just because they have identified the offenders does not mean that they have them in custody, and if they have them in custody it does not mean that they are going to be prosecuted."

RELATED: 
Modern Slavery: Mexico Ranks 5th in Global Human Trafficking

 

Research conducted by UN Women; Mexico's Interior Department, and the National Women's Institute shows the annual femicide rate initially fell from 3.8 per 100,000 women in 1985 to 1.9 per 100,000 in 2007. That rate then rose to 4.6 in 2012 before falling slightly to 4.4 in 2016.

In total, as many as 52,210 women have been murdered in Mexico since 1985. Nearly one third of the victims were killed during the last 10 years.

Despite the North American country having specific laws in place to tackle the issue, the number of femicides has steadily risen over the past few decades, a reflection of Mexico's growing culture of impunity.

The state of Colima registered the highest rate in 2016: 16.3 per 100,000, according to the latest figures.

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