As we mark the end of the first quarter of the year-long Crossing the Bridge Project, Concerned Women for America will be reporting on the progress-to-date of each of the Mexican nongovernmental organizations working with us in fighting sex trafficking in their country.
Supervised by Luis Antonio Marquez Heine, a Harvard-educated businessman, all of the projects are well underway. Mr. Marquez meets regularly with leaders of all five organizations, and each group complements the overall project goals of raising awareness about and combating sex trafficking in Mexico. This week we will share the highlights from the joint report of the Comision Mexicano de Derechos Humanos and Familias y Sociedad (Mexican Human Rights Commission’s and Families and Society’s).
Comisn Mexicano de Derechos Humanos and Familias y Sociedad, A.C.
The Mexican Human Rights Commission (CMDH) and the organization Families and Society agreed to join their projects to unify and expand their efforts. During the proposal phase, both organizations said they would collect data on victims, produce papers to influence public policy on sex trafficking, and compile resources to be used by legislators, law enforcement and policymakers. By combining their resources and skills, they will be able to produce more comprehensive information.
CMDH is led by Mrs. Eugenia Diez, who attended CWA’s Bridge Project in Washington in April 2005. Mrs. Diez was an active participant in the training seminar who took copious notes and asked penetrating questions. She left Washington with the mission to raise awareness about sex trafficking and produce a body of evidence showing the need for its immediate eradication.
Families and Society also had representatives at CWA’s Bridge Project, Mrs. Sandra Herrera and Mr. Jesus Hernandez. Mrs. Herrera is currently on maternity leave, but Mr. Hernandez continues to serve as legal counsel for Families and Society; he is also on the board of Red Familia, the nongovernment organization that overseas the whole effort in Mexico. Dr. Jose Antonio Lez Ortega is the new representative from Families and Society working with CMDH.
During the first quarter, CMDH and Families and Society began compiling a database about the sexual exploitation of trafficking victims. This information showing the trends in human trafficking will be used to influence public opinion and shape legislation.
Thus far they have documented 800 references to trafficking and prostitution in news sources such as Reforma, El Universal, La Jornada and Milenio. Of those 800 references, 160 relate to child trafficking. They have also found 17 books on subjects such as commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), pornography, prostitution, sex trafficking, overviews of the public policy situation for human rights of Mexican children, studies of the legal and penal codes in the states of Jalisco, Guerrero and Baja, and one countrywide study. The team is reading all the books and drawing up resource summaries to add to the database.
The legislative analysis project is also underway. This project compiles and analyzes bills and initiatives with a special emphasis on a law to prevent human trafficking and on the reform of the federal law against organized crime regarding child sexual exploitation.
Federal legislation regarding CSEC is being reviewed as well. The project is analyzing the federal penal code, law against organized crime and code for penal procedures, the law for children’s rights, and some international treaties in order to provide policy recommendations and program content suggestions to address the issue of sex trafficking in future legislation and public-policy discussions.
High-level meetings with the national Development of Family Integration office, the Labor Secretary’s office and the International Labor Organizations’ Mexico office are ongoing. These offices will contribute information for the database about programs, authorities and experts already working on the problem of sex trafficking. Building a network of partners, contacts and resources is important in eradicating this modern-day slavery.
Please continue to pray for the efforts of these two groups as they forge ahead with the sometimes onerous task of compiling and analyzing the data. Sex trafficking is a difficult topic to research, and interviews conducted with current and former victims will be heart-wrenching.
If the activists are to be successful and if legislation is to be effective, there must be a body of evidence that will ensure government support and law-enforcement involvement so that a unified effort can be launched. We are grateful that the prestige and reputation of these two pivotal groups guarantees that their work will be influential.
All of the projects working in Mexico need your prayers of support and encouragement during the battle to eradicate this scourge. Abolition!
Brenda Zurita is Coordinator for CWA’s Crossing the Bridge Project.