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More Dangerous to be a Woman in Mexico than a Soldier in Gaza - UN Expert

Elizabeth Velasco C. - La Jornada
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March 16, 2013

Mexico is among the leading countries in the world for the commission of crimes of sexual violence and human trafficking, warned the head of the area on gender, violence and human rights of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), María José  Gómez González. He was participating in the presentation of three studies on male involvement in trafficking for sexual exploitation, sponsored by the civic association, Gender and Development (Gendes*), in the Rufino Tamayo Museum in Mexico City.

He said, "it is riskier than being a woman in Mexico than a soldier in Gaza or in another nation facing an armed conflict."

In an interview with La Jornada, he said that UN reports place Mexico as a country of high incidence of such crimes, at the level of Ukraine and Thailand.

UN figures show that more than 800,000 women and girls are victims of sexual exploitation in Mexico, while 38,000 (youth, adult and children) have been killed in recent years, he said.

He said that the country has high level of trafficking in transit through the country, "victims come from other nations, such as Central Americans from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, or are brought from Asia, to be sent to the United States and who enter through Central America."

Mexico also "is a source country, because all these victims, plus those from the Mexican market are sent to markets mainly in the United States and to Europe."

The specialist said that the mechanisms created by recent governments to prevent and eradicate human trafficking do not work properly.

"Not only is it a problem of economic resources or political will, but officials do not know how to approach and work on the issue," he said.

He also considers that a cultural change is necessary in the country, so as not to criminalize the victims because they are, in most cases, undocumented migrants.

He stressed the need for the Mexican government to take a stand regarding prostitution, because "actions against sex trafficking are severely damaging the rights of sex workers, and it is necessary to defend the rights of women, given that activity."

Meanwhile, Daniel Ponce, assistant general manager of relationships, educational and outreach programs of the National Council to Prevent Discrimination, said the issue is discriminatory because it mostly affects women and girls with certain characteristics:  "They are poor, foreign or undocumented migrants, African or of indigenous descent, and in the case of these latter, they are used more for labor exploitation and almost like slaves."

Mauro Antonio Vargas, director general of Gendes, said that behind this lies a cultural framework, marked by patriarchal dynamics that generates inequalities that place men in a supposed position of "superiority", and a vision that has spread regarding the iconic models of women and the exploitation of her body as an object for sexual consumption.

See Spanish original

*Gendes is a Mexican non-profit civil organization "founded in 2003 by a group of social science professionals committed to the analysis of masculine identities and the erradication of gender violence. It seeks distinct strategies of attention to develop other forms of being men and women, alternative to the hegemonic model, with focuses that promote non-violence, emotions and gender equity and equality in community, institutional, group and individual contexts. It carries out research and social communication relevant to public policy."

Posted by Reed Brundage at Mexico Voices

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