For my week seven final assignment, I have decided to look into issue of sex trafficking of women in Mexico. Trafficking in a general sense is a huge problem, not only in Mexico, but world-wide. The United Nations defines basic trafficking as “the capture, transport, harboring, reception, or delivery of people by means of violence or threat of violence” (Tiano & Bigej, 2012). When an individual is sexually exploited within the trafficking ring, then it is sex trafficking. Unfortunately, Mexico is considered to be an origin, transit, and destination country for sex trafficking (Risley, 2010). Women and children are taken directly off the street or lured away (origin), transferred from other countries, across the country, and to other countries (transit), and tourists flock from around the world to “purchase” services from the women who have been captured or forced to work as a sex slave (destination).
Approximately 800,000 adults and 200,000 children are sexually exploited each year in Mexico (Cawley, 2014). In relation to these numbers, a study found that out of 60 rescued trafficked women, 75% were under the age of 15, 17% were aged between 16-20, and 8% were older than the age of 20 (Acharya, 2015). Many are being lured into the system by being promised a better life, whether it be through a job opportunity, educational opportunity, or romantic relationships. Once trust is gained, though, women are taken advantage of against their will using force and/or drugs, and are traded or sold around the country and the world for sexual purposes. Others, are simply taken off the street, kidnapped and forced to work in the sex industry. Once taken in the trafficking ring, it is very difficult to escape, notably because the women fear being harmed or having family members harmed if they attempted to leave. With that said, many women spend their lives in this ring and/or die while being trafficked, unless they are rescued by a specialized organization or police force. Many of the observed rescued women were reported malnourished, physically abused (brusing, scarring, cuts, etc.), psychologically distressed (PTSD, depression, suicidal tendencies), and sexually wounded (STDS, botched abortions, etc.) (Acharya, 2015). Complications from these could be the culprit for many deaths of women involved in sex trafficking rings.
The issue of sex trafficking, again, is not only a national problem, but a worldwide problem. The war against trafficking does not end at Mexico’s border, but extends past, as women are sold from nation to nation. From a public health standpoint, this is very problematic for the spread of disease, especially sexually transmitted diseases. Since so many women are raped and taken advantage of by so many different men, the spread of these diseases is inevitable. Finding ways to end trafficking and rescuing the trapped women gives the opportunity to treat the diseases and cure if possible, while also decreasing or putting a halt to the spread of these diseases. From a cultural standpoint, sex trafficking continues to glorify the idea of machismo, or the superiority of men over women. In Mexico, since many years back, men have always been believed to be the breadwinners, the head of household, and women are to obey and answer to them. Having the capability to “own” a woman’s body further extends that power to men. Hopefully by stopping the trafficking rings, women can have the opportunity to not only live their own life, but also be able to feel like they are not a level below men or that they are property to men.
Acharya, A. K. 2015. Trafficking of women in Mexico and their health risk: Issues and problems. Social Inclusion, 1, 103-112.
Cawley, M. 2014. Extent of Mexico human trafficking obscured by lack of info. Insight Crime. Retrieved from http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/extent-of-mexico-human-trafficking-obscured-by-lack-of-info.
Risley, A. 2010. Sex trafficking: The other crisis in Mexico? The Latin Americanist, 54, 99-117.
Tiano, S. & Bigej, B. 2012. Solving Social Problems: Borderline Slavery: Mexico, United States, and the Human Trade. Ashgate Publishing Group.