Catholic prevention organization: Mexico ranks first in human trafficking and child abuse

trafficking Credit: Sammis Reachers/Pixabay

Sister Karina de la Rosa Morales, a nun with the Xavierian Missionary Sisters of Mary and a member of the Rahamim network that is fighting against human trafficking, lamented that Mexico holds “first place in human trafficking, child abuse, organ selling, sex tourism, child abduction, and child pornography.”

ACI Prensa spoke with several of the nuns and a laywoman who belong to the Rahamim prevention network. Sister Ligia María Cámara said that “trafficking is a crime” that uses “lies or force to take advantage of people,” violate their rights, and frequently transport them to unknown places.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stated in a January report that “Mexico ranks first in child sexual abuse; first in exploitation, homicides, and trafficking of minors; and first in creation and distribution of child pornography.”

The El Financiero newspaper reported in a May 2022 interview with Vivaldina Jaubert, director of the nongovernmental organization Alas for the protection of minors, that “the International Conference on Tourism and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children stated that before the COVID-19 lockdowns, 600,000 predators were entering Mexico per year. That means 1,666 per day, 69 per hour, one pedophile per minute.”

In a June 2020 Mexican Senate bulletin, Congresswoman Verónica Beatriz Juárez Piña said that Mexico was exporting 60% of child pornography worldwide and that the rate had shot up to 73% during the lockdowns.

According to UNICEF, child pornography is one of the most lucrative businesses in the world after drug trafficking, with earnings estimated at $7 billion a year.

Sister Teresa Santillán, a Xaverian religious and also a member of Rahamim, explained that this network of religious in Mexico “was started in 2013 out of concern for how human trafficking was growing. Sometimes it’s associated with prostitution or farm work, because [the victims] can do field work. But it has many purposes; it mainly affects women and girls.”

“Our network is for the prevention of human trafficking. We don’t work directly with the victims. There are other congregations that do. We give talks, workshops, etc.,” explained Cámara, who belongs to the Daughters of Charity.

Norma Angélica Landa, a mother who works in the network, commented that the most common forms of trafficking are “sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, begging (it’s very likely that children who beg for money on street corners are victims of trafficking), forced marriages, organ selling, illegal adoptions, and surrogacy.” The number of victims of human trafficking increased by 67.3% in Mexico from 2020 to 2021, according to a report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Santillán explained that this scourge “means that traffickers see people as merchandise. Trafficking occurs inside and outside of our country.”

Cámara described the typical trafficker profile: “They are unscrupulous men and women who can live in your neighborhood, be familiar or strangers, friends, even relatives who in order to successfully recruit and get their victim to agree, are kind, offer gifts, money, trips, an easier way of life.”

Once they have their victim, “they take away her identity papers, keep her incommunicado, control her with fear, even threaten the death of a family member, frequently sexually abuse their victims, take advantage of the victim’s ignorance about the laws and rights that protect them,” the nun said.

The Rahamim network, a word that means “heart of mercy” in Hebrew, belongs to the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious and Societies of Apostolic Life of Mexico (CIRM) and Talitha Kum, which is the International Network of Consecrated Life against Human Trafficking.

To avoid being trafficked, this organization offers the following safety tips: On social media, do not provide strangers with details about yourself, friends, family or any information that puts you at risk; research the authenticity of the job offers or possible scholarships that you receive online; and do not provide your personal ID documents.

The network also recommends being accompanied to interviews, not getting into a vehicle with strangers, not going to deserted places at night, and avoiding contact with strangers. It’s also not advisable to take food or drinks from people you don’t know.

Cámara pointed out that “there would be no pornography if there were no consumers. Without clients there is no trafficking. Since the pandemic, the rate of consumption of pornography, domestic violence, sexual abuse, etc., has risen a lot.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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