Mexico: Reports on enforced disappearance of girls and teenagers

Guadalajara, Mexico, November 26, 2012 (SEMlac). - Carla was a withdrawn 15-year old girl going to secondary school and helping out her mother with household chores.

One day, she did not come back from school. Her mother reported her missing, but local authorities in Querétaro, where they live, told her that the girl might have left with a boyfriend. After having unsuccessfully asked the Prosecutor’s Office to find her, she decided to investigate on her own.

She went to several neighboring cities and finally located her at a grocery store in Tlaxcala, around five hours away by bus from home. The entrance door to the place was practically closed on a permanent basis. Cargo truck drivers usually got in for soft-drinks or beers and got out accompanied by young girls.

Carla was one of them. Her mother tried to talk to her, but the girl simply told her not to worry. “I am fine; I have a baby,” she said.

The mother contacted authorities in Tlaxcala, but by the time they went to the store there was nobody there.

This was three years ago and she has had no further news about Carla ever since. She is still hopeful, looking for her daughter in other states.

In Querétaro, a city close to the Federal District , feminist groups estimate the number of young, poor girls aged 13 to 17 who have gone missing in the last six years at over 330.

A report of the Prosecutor’s Office in Querétaro sets the overall number at 43, however.

"These girls may have left their families because they were being abused or simply because they wanted to be with their boyfriends,” it added.

Gisela Sánchez, coordinator of the Health and Gender Civil Association, a civil- society organization, has repeatedly asked local authorities to conduct serious investigations.

This group has found out that young girls are often contacted over the Internet and asked to meet dealers at cafés.

As soon as they are given gifts, including perfumes, chocolates and clothes, are driven on luxury cars and are asked in marriage, they start having sex with these men.

“In some cases, they take them to other states, where their families cannot easily find them. In some others, the victims are forced into vehicles

on their way back home from school,” Sánchez told SEMlac.

“When a 13-year-old girl says she left home with her boyfriend, there is a need to investigate,” she added.

Sánchez is closely working with Feminist Millennium, Health and Gender, Equity and Diversity Network, Revolutionary Women, and other organizations.

They sent a communiqué to the Prosecutor in Querétaro indicating that local authorities have not been very active in carrying out investigations and supporting victims and their families.

”This is a serious violation of human rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” it stressed.

On the occasion of the International Day on Violence against Women, they distributed leaflets containing family tips to avoid enforced disappearance, including filing reports, making emergency phone calls, and sending alerts to bus stations, airports, etc.

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