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Migrant women, victims of exploitation
9/24/2012
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Poverty and lack of opportunities lead migrant women to fall into trafficking networks.

Mesoamerica — Mexico and Central America — is one of the major migrant corridors in the world. More than half of the people who migrate in this region are women who leave their countries in search for a better life.

A study by the International Organization for Migration, or IOM, revealed that “[women] are exposed to many risks during their migratory route and are more vulnerable to assault, rape, and human trafficking for sexual and labour exploitations.”

Released in Costa Rica to mark the International Day Against Human Trafficking on Sept. 23, the IOM report “Trafficking of Women: One More Manifestation of Violence Against Women” revealed that “[today], more women are migrating alone than at any other time in history,” and in many cases, these women become trapped in trafficking networks.

“Countries of destination for Latin America and Caribbean female victims are mainly Europe and the United States, but Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Mexico have also been reported as countries of destination for women from the hemisphere,” claims the IOM. “In the Mesoamerican context, exploitation occurs also within the same region. Some countries are mainly countries of origin (El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua), others are destination countries (Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico).”

The report adds that “although human trafficking of women is mainly for sexual exploitation, there are cases of labour exploitation, begging and organ extraction. The children of female victims are also exploited by the traffickers.”

The discrimination migrant women suffer, because of gender and migrant status, lands them in precarious and exploitative labor conditions, where they may suffer sexual violence from traffickers, co-workers, or corrupt authorities.

“But breaking free from their captors and returning home does not mean it is the end of their nightmare,” the IOM adds. “Once home, they face the prospect of violent reprisals or re-trafficking; possible stigmatization by the family and the community; limited access to employment and options for income generation; and they may have to pay back debts incurred to migrate,” said Ana Hidalgo, manager of the IOM’s Regional Counter Trafficking Project, during the presentation of the study on Sept. 18.

Only a small number of victims are able to escape their captors, and an even smaller number are able to talk about their experiences and report them to the authorities. Sixty four percent of the 46,000 victims of human trafficking who have benefitted from IOM assistance are adult women and underage girls. In Mexico, more than 80 percent of the people who received assistance from the IOM were mainly Central American women, victims of sexual and labor exploitation. 
—Latinamerica Press.


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