We continue to investigate open cases, provide services to survivors, and support families of trafficking victims.
The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women—Latin America and the Caribbean (CATW-LAC) received 153 cases in 2014, to date.
Estimated girls & women affected
This number includes the loved ones of the missing women and girls: their daughters, mothers, sisters, granddaughters, friends, and those whose lives they impacted through their own work and livelihood. To determine this number, we developed a rough estimate of five girls and women indirectly affected for every one woman or girl missing.
Estimated community members affected
Thanks to your generous support, we were able to improve the services delivered to victims, such as housing, and empower them through educational programs, vocational training, and productive projects. Two new projects were developed, the “Cookie Shop” and the “Boutique,” which provide economic development for the victims and their families. Funds have also been used to provide for housing, healing, medical attention, legal representation, sports, cultural activities, and the promotion and dissemination of open cases as they are investigated. We have supported 15 families with travel expenses and per diem allowances either for visits when victims are recovered or for attending the legal procedures. In addition, we were able to perform one family reunification of two girls who were separated from their mother for three years.
As a whole, we had a busy year! The Red Alert System received 156 cases in 2014, which already exceeds the number of cases in all of 2013 or 2012. So far this year, 15 victims have been located. Other assistance we provided includes:
- 258 therapy sessions provided to 26 rescued individuals
- 48 crisis interventions
- 15 individuals received medical attention and/or medicine
- 20 persons received shelter
- 22 families of victims received accommodation and travel stipends, in order to continue searching for their missing family member
- 15 survivors received clothing and/or personal hygiene items
- 1,190 meals were provided
- 31 family reunifications were made possible
- Legal assistance and representation provided for 97 cases and 7 convictions were processed
In our dissemination of information:
- 28 press releases were issued
- 5 press conferences were held
- 100 publications made the press
- 116 media interviews were conducted
- 5,765 tweets reached 4,250 followers with an average of 50 RTs each
- 6,840 publications on the CATW-LAC Facebook page that reached an audience of over 3,500 friends and had over 100 shares on average
We continue to investigate open cases, provide services to victims, and support to the families. The continued spread of information about these cases increases the profile of this growing problem, and will hopefully bring justice to more victims and their families.
Maria* was last seen in November, 2004 in Terreon, Coahuila, Mexico, a town that has seen a high number of disappearances since the increase of organized crime. Since the disappearance, the family has lost everything in the search for their daughter. "We have been able to follow up with the case thanks to the sponsorship and humanitarian assistance of CATW-LAC," a mother reports. “I keep dreaming that one day I will find my daughter, that is why I beg CATW-LAC to continue helping me."
Risks and challenges
We saw a 100% increase in the cases received in 2014, creating a major challenge in responding to the cases with limited funds and staff. Another problem faced while implementing the project followed the 2012 elections. The new government provides limited support in accessing justice and in preventing modern forms of contemporary slavery and exploitation, including trafficking. Government funding is very limited as anti-trafficking efforts were not given much consideration in the Federal budget for 2014. The threat of organized crime and violence still plagues the victims, their families, and our team, making this work dangerous for those involved.
What we’ve learned
The search for missing victims can be a vey long process. We have cases of girls that have been missing for six to eight years - the legal procedures are very complex, and the access to justice for victims and their families can take a long time to achieve. In some cases, the healing, counseling, and medical attention can be extensive processes until victims are fully able to rebuild their live or can be reunited with their families. Providing education, vocational training, productive projects, and transitional homes are all part of supporting and empowering victims so they become survivors. All these elements are critical in ensuring that those rescued can move forward and live happy, productive lives.
We’re monitoring the needs of the victims in transitional homes, educational programs, vocational trainings, and productive projects to increase the effectiveness of the empowerment process. We are also entering all cases in a new database system that allows for better tracking and reporting. We aim to confirm if there is a link between trafficking and the murder of girls and women, particularly in cases where organized crime and drug cartels are involved.
Amount spent so far
Material and Equipment
Human Resources: Psychologist, Victims Officer
Travel and Per diem
Rescuing women and children victims of trafficking in Mexico
Through The Red Alert System, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women—Latin America and the Caribbean (CATW-LAC) has received 63 new cases of missing women and children in Mexico, continued to work on 102 cases of missing persons that have not yet been solved, and located and rescued a total of 51 victims of trafficking.
Unfortunately, given the prevalence of organized crime and violence in Mexico, 15 of these women and children were not recovered alive.
With funding from this project, CATW-LAC provided essential counseling services and medical attention to 15 victims and 25 families. Your funding allowed families that needed to travel to reunite with their loved ones to do so. This funding also allowed CATW-LAC to provide complete protection and relocation for two families and vocation trainings for victims to become survivors. CATW-LAC also served as a legal advisor and provided legal representation for 75 victims and their families.As a result of this support, CATW-LAC was able to provide cultural activities for victims and their families post rescue.
The funds have been also used in providing housing, healing, medical attention, legal representation, cultural activities for victims, and the promotion and dissemination of cases. We have supported 15 families with travel expenses and per diem. Most recently, we were able to perform one family reunification of two little girls from Mexico that were separated from their mother for 3 years in New York City.
Risks and challenges
Because of organized crime and violence in Mexico, victims, their families and CATW-LAC's team have received death threats.
In Mexico, the changes in the federal government have impacted the Red Alert System because the new government did not immediately declare its support and commitment to fight trafficking. Finally on September 23, the President publically declared the Federal Government’s commitment to fight trafficking.
Progress was made in 2012 to pass new a anti-trafficking law. This law will be reformed in 2013. However, under the new government the Interministerial Commission has not been reinstalled, nor the National Plan to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate Trafficking in Persons. As a result not part of the budget was allocated for the Protection and Attention of Trafficking Victims.
Even though no government funds have been allocated to support the Red Alert System, we have been able to fundraise internationally to implement two new components, the Transitional Homes, and the Education Program, Vocational Trainings and Productive Projects.
Local and federal judges released the identities of victims and their families to the perpetrators and their lawyers. This has resulted in death threats to the victims, families, witnesses and CATW-LAC's working team. In fear for their lives, many victims have not wanted to continue with their cases. We are not certain if this is corruption or because the judges believe there is a conflict between the right of victims and witness protection, and the right to due process.Most recently, one victim’s parents received information that led to new lines of investigation to locate their child. This gives us hope, strength, and the conviction to keep working. Another victim’s parents have become activists despite the threats they face.
CATW-LAC is monitoring the needs of the victims who are in transitional homes, the education program, vocational trainings and productive projects so that we can make modifications to become more effective in the process of empowerment. We will process all the information in the database to produce the annual report of cases and services provided by CATW-LAC. CATW-LAC collects data on places of origin, transit, destination, and the type of victimization. We also aim to confirm if there is a link between trafficking and femicide, mainly in the cases (70 per cent) where organized crime and drug cartels are involved.
|Line Items||Projected budget||Amount spent so far|
Materials and Equipment
Human Resources - Psychologist, Victim's Officer
Travel and Per diem
Humanitarian Support Services
Searching for victims is very challenging and in some cases can take many years. We have cases of girls that have been missing for 6 or 8 years. Additionally, the legal procedures are very complicated and it can take a long time for families to receive justice.
Providing education, vocational training, productive projects and transitional homes for victims are an essential part of empowering victims so they become survivors but also take time. When we are able to reunify a family or locate/rescue a victim, or re-instill their ability to smile, hope, or believe in themselves and in others, we know all our efforts have been worthwhile.
The number of women and girls disappearing in Latin America is increasing at an alarming rate, especially in communities under the control of cartels and organized crime.
Why we care: We can make communities less vulnerable to organized crime, empower families in the search for missing persons, and provide aftercare services to victims of contemporary forms of slavery.
How we’re solving this: The Red Alert System gathers data on the disappearances of women and children into trafficking networks and attempts to rescue them from trafficking.
In 2006, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women - Latin America and the Caribbean in collaboration with the Mexican General Attorney and the Federal Preventive Police, founded the “Red Alert System” to rescue women and children victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.
Through the “Red Alert System,” the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women - Latin America and the Caribbean helps consolidate the work of government agencies, migration authorities, office of passports, the ministry of foreign affairs, general attorneys, prosecutors’ offices and police to rescue trafficking victims.
The Red Alert System gathers data on the disappearances of women and children into trafficking networks. It also works to make communities less vulnerable to organized crime, helps construct a strong civil society by empowering families in the search for relatives, and provides necessary aftercare services to victims.
The Red Alert System is the first of its kind and has to-date helped more than 1,037 women and children across Latin America escape trafficking.
You can help us fund the amount of staff needed to support the search for victims, provide after care for victims of trafficking, medicines and necessary medical expenses, and materials to help disseminate information about missing people.