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 Fundacn Infantia’s [Children’s Foundation’s] report.
The Children’s Foundation, run by Rosa Martha Brown, is pushing forward on its projects full speed ahead. This is not surprising for Rosa Martha, as she is a force of nature! Rosa Martha attended CWA’s Bridge Project training seminar in April 2005 in Washington, D.C., and used information and contacts from this event to expand her efforts in Mexico.
Fundacn Infantia works to combat commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) with a focus on child trafficking. Its work is focusing on the cities of Puebla, Tlaxcala, Distrito Federal and Baja California-Tijuana. The scope of its work includes taking preventive actions and implementing awareness workshops in high-risk zones such as the states of Puebla and Distrito Federal, holding citizen awareness programs, and targeting specific industries, such as travel and tourism, to raise awarenes.
In September Fundacn Infantia held a CSEC awareness workshop in the Distrito Federal; 50 members of AFEET (Women’s Entrepreneur and Executive Association of Tourism) attended. The participants filled out a series of questionnaires designed to raise their awareness and judge their level of knowledge of the problem: 98 percent had heard of CSEC, 10 percent knew someone involved in CSEC, 96 percent said it exists in Mexico, 100 percent said it exists in the tourism industry. They broke down responsibility for it as 29 percent for the authorities, 25 percent for the clients, 22 percent for the businesses, 19 percent for the citizens and 5 percent for minor children.
In October Fundacn Infantia held the “Forum for the Prevention of CSEC in Tourism” in Puebla. This was organized in coordination with the government’s Development for Family Integration office (DIF) to strengthen efforts by adopting similar strategies in both the public and private sectors.
The 393 people attending the workshop learned what constitutes CSEC pornography, prostitution, trafficking and sexual tourism as well as the magnitude and characteristics of CSEC and the tourism industry’s ideas to fight it. They received folders containing prevention material, codes of conduct for the tourism industry, and a brochure titled “Open Your Eyes, But Don’t Close Your Mouth.” Participants attending were hotel owners and administrators, restaurant operators, tourism promoters, proprietors of amusement parks and transportation companies.
The participants took a questionnaire before and after the session. The initial questionnaire showed that 99 percent had heard of CSEC, 6 percent knew someone involved in CSEC, 98 percent thought CSEC is present in the tourism industry and that the responsibility for CSEC is shared by the authorities (32 percent), businesses (26 percent), clients (22 percent), citizens (17 percent) and minor children (3 percent). Rosa Martha made it clear in her presentation that minor children are not responsible for their involvement in CSEC.
As a result of this workshop, the chief executive officer of a local magazine that caters to tourism in Puebla and Tlaxcala, Explora Magazine, the transportation company “Estrella Roja,” which serves the states of Puebla, Tlaxcala, Mexico and Distrito Federal, and the amusement park “African Safari” all pledged to take action against commercial sexual exploitation of children in their respective businesses. Fundacn Infantia will continue to work closely with these businesses to expand their efforts.
In November a third workshop took place in Mexico City with 80 business owners and employees attending. They studied the role of the private sector and civil society in preventing child trafficking, prostitution, pornography and sexual tourism. The results from the questionnaire they completed indicated a 91 percent awareness of CSEC, 9 percent know someone involved in CSEC, 100 percent believe it exists in Mexico, and 100 percent believe it is a problem in the tourism industry. Who did they hold responsible for CSEC? The breakdown was 30 percent authorities, 27 percent citizens, 24 percent clients, 17 percent businesses, and 2 percent minor children.
Over the next few months, Fundacn Infantia will continue to meet and work with DIF to arrange an awareness lecture on CSEC for high-level authorities in 125 municipalities. In addition, the team is working with diverse sponsors and institutions to develop a CSEC awareness campaign to be promoted through fliers and radio spots.
In summary, over the past three months, Fundacn Infantia met with more than 500 influential people in Mexico to raise awareness of the problem of sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation. We will keep you updated regularly with Rosa Martha’s great work and the organizations focusing on raising awareness and combating the evils of this modern-day slavery in Mexico.
Next Week: An update from Comisn Mexicano de Derechos Humanos and Familias y Sociedad
Brenda Zurita is Coordinator for CWA’s Crossing the Bridge Project.