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WeNews: Central American women who pass through Mexico on the way to the United States are often subjected to sexual assault and other forms of violence. Although Mexico offers access to humanitarian visas for migrant victims of violence, the visas are rarely issued and the process is so slow it's nearly useless.
"When Mexico decriminalized undocumented migration from the nations south of its border through its country two years ago, it also started allowing migrant victims of violence access to humanitarian visas. However, the visas are rarely issued and the process is so slow it's nearly useless.
Women constitute half the migrants making the journey from Central America all the way to the United States, said Emilio Chavez, acting director of Sin Fonteras, or Without Borders, a human rights organization based in Mexico City that aids migrants. Women, he said, are disproportionately subject to abuse along the way. "Violence against women is the most consistent pattern we see," he said. "Still, we see no kind of government response. These crimes go continually unnoticed. There is no protection for these migrant women. Nothing at all."
In an April report, entitled "Invisible Victims: Migrants on the Move in Mexico," Amnesty International noted that Mexico issued 14 humanitarian visas in 2008 and eight visas between January and June 2009. They were for cases of trafficking and-or kidnapping, according to the International Organization of Migration's office in Mexico, which didn't provide a gender breakdown of the statistics.
It can take months, or even years, to process a claim on any kind of abuse, including sexual violence. A successful applicant might be able to take a perpetrator to court or win refugee status in Mexico.
All the while, migrant women must wait in detention centers, where they can face intimidation and no guaranteed access to legal representation. Detention rates of migrants for passing through Mexico have fallen sharply in recent years, but Chavez doesn't see this as good news for migrants.