Victims of Sex-Trafficking Find Sanctuary in Tijuana's Garden House
Brooke Binkowski - The Globe and Mail
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December 20, 2014

Alma Tucker sits in her office at La Casa de Jardin. The girls in her shelter are Mexican nationals, rescued by authorities in both the United States and Mexico. It is one of only two such group homes in Mexico. (Brooke Binkowski/Fronteras)


LISTEN: Alma Tucker started La Casa del Jardin, or The Garden House, after a career with the Mexican Consulate. (Fronteras)

It was a dusty, sunny day on the outskirts of Tijuana. While much of Mexico roiled in civil unrest last month, the upscale neighborhood overlooking the Pacific Ocean was an oasis of calm. Inside a sprawling two-storey home, a group of girls sang a traditional birthday song to a slim young woman dressed in scrubs as she laughed and wiped away tears.

A woman who was found beating herself in the downtown of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico seen in a privately run shelter for the mentally ill west of the city. Due to a lack of state social infrastructure many people with extreme mental illnesses are brought here.

“I’m making a wish!” said Hilda, squeezing her eyes closed. She stooped and blew out the candles on her cake to claps and cheers. The girls swarmed to hug her. This was a goodbye party as well as a birthday celebration, because Hilda, now 18, is the first woman to graduate from La Casa del Jardin – The Garden House – a group home for victims of child sex-trafficking in Mexico.

La Casa del Jardin is one of three such homes in the country, and the only one that exists along the border between Mexico and the United States, where the need is high and growing.

Hilda was one of the first girls turned over to the home by Mexican authorities after they discovered she had been sexually abused and, like many trafficking victims, sold into prostitution by her family. Over the past months, she has emerged from a self-imposed cocoon of silence; she now works with children at a health center and has just found an apartment of her own, a few kilometers away from the group home.

...There are now eleven girls like her living there, between nine and 17 years old, and each with a story like Hilda’s. The home provides them with a team of teachers, therapists and cooks. Ms. Tucker, an American citizen born in Mexico, crosses the border daily to oversee the Casa’s workings.

Read the whole story at The Globe and Mail

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