Violence and poverty, causes of migration of Central Americans and Mexicans

Social and sexual violence, together with poverty, are the main motivations for adolescents in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico migrate from their countries of origin, revealed on Tuesday the report “Women in crisis: life in contexts of mobility in the region of Central America and Mexico” by the NGO Plan International.

“One in three migrant adolescents considers that social, sexual and gender-based violence in their communities is a reason to flee and leave the community in which they live in their country”, said Concha López, general director of Plan International Spain, during the presentation of the study in the Mexican capital.

In addition, López mentioned that poverty and the lack of opportunities, united in the search for a better future, They are the main reason indicated by adolescents for migrating, in more than 50%.

In this sense, the study shows that 39.4% of the more than 265 young people surveyed, among other key informants, they identify social or community violence as the biggest daily problem in their localities.

Meanwhile, they think that there is a difference in the types of violence they suffer compared to men, identifying that women are more prone to experiencing sexual violence, in contrast to the physical violence suffered by men.

The study, prepared with the support of the General Directorate for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection of the European Union, indicates that women face physical and sexual violence, mainly in their own homes by acquaintances and relatives (28.7%), followed by acts of this type in public spaces (23.4%).


Another 22% of the migrant adolescents interviewed indicated that social and gender-based violence are equally factors for school dropout.

Although more than 59% ranked the school as a safe environment for adolescents, almost one in three (27.7%) indicated that the school is an unsafe space.

This was verified with interviews that reflect that in these spaces and on the journeys to them situations of physical, emotional, sexual and psychological violence are still registered that deeply affect young people, especially when there are no prevention or protection mechanisms in the school environments.

Other factors that motivate the migration of origin are pregnancies and violence in their closest and family environment, as well as the care of dependent people. because they are women.

In this context, it is recorded that one in three migrant adolescents surveyed in Central America and Mexico think that gender is a determining factor when migrating due to violence.

Just as 4 out of 10 respondents believe that the different manifestations of violence affect adolescents more than the general population, while lAdolescent women report up to four times more knowing experiences of violence of other women, where 21.3% emphasize, in a special way, the social violence that is exercised towards them.

Giovanni Lepri, representative in Mexico of the United Nations Agency for Refugees (Acnur), pointed out that studies of this type are necessary to understand in a broader way the increasing human mobility.

“Within human mobility, there are many people who are refugees, who are asylum seekers, and who need protection. And the issue of gender violence is a cause of forced displacement, ”she acknowledged.

In this sense, he criticized the need to think about measures as birth control injections for 12-year-old girls henceforth they do not become pregnant during the migratory transit that they decide to undertake due to the violence of which they are victims.

The study also proposes some recommendations such as establishing “safe routes” so that adolescents can go to school, minimizing risks in public spaces.

Likewise, expand and strengthen the protection mechanisms in the main cities, and extend them to all territories, especially those with the highest rate of violence.

Lastly, it encourages initiatives to promote the elimination of stigma towards populations in contexts of mobility among the civilian population; and develop a comprehensive and inclusive approach to the educational system, which favors the understanding of education as a fundamental right for adolescents.


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