More than 1,000 people were arrested last week by Mexican police in a crackdown on human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Ciudad Juarez, a town just across the southern border of the U.S. Mexican police rescued dozens of women and at least 20 children who had been trafficked into prostitution.
Analysts say that much of the violence in Mexico, particularly in the north, is linked to the trade in drugs and humans. What is left unexamined is what fuels this trade in young females for sex. According to Laura Lederer, President of Global Centurion, an anti-trafficking organization in Washington DC, “men frequenting brothels and cruising the streets for commercial sex are a key factor in the booming sex trafficking business.” Lederer says women and children are trafficked from Mexico and Central America into back-alley brothels in the United States. In addition, she says, “Men from the U.S. also cross the border into Mexico seeking sex from women and children who have been trafficked into prostitution and are being held against their will. This business knows no national borders.”
American men need to understand who runs the sex trade. “The people who traffic women and children into prostitution are violent criminals, often connected to other criminal syndicates and networks” says Lederer. Ciudad Juarez is one of the most violent places in Mexico. More than 3,000 murders were committed in 2010 alone, making it the country's deadliest city.
To address this serious problem, Mexico must pass a new human trafficking law that addresses the triangle of activity involved in trafficking: supply, demand, and distribution. “Too often, the laws only prohibit human trafficking. This is a start, because it gives law enforcement the tools to arrest and charge traffickers, but it does not address either supply (the women and children being sold) or demand (the men buying). A comprehensive law will address the entire triangle of activity,” according to Lederer. “It will have a victim-centered approach for women and children who are trafficked AND it will target both traffickers and buyers – the men who purchase sex and fuel this illegal market. Over time, vigorous enforcement of such a tri-partite law will effectively eradicate the scourge of human trafficking.”