Things That Matter

New Study Shows Central American Women Escaping Violence Experience More Trauma After Seeking Asylum

@pritheworld

A recently released report shows the reality of why many woman from Central American countries are fleeing. The data outlines a rising number of women are trying to escape sexual and domestic violence in their home countries. Conducted with researchers from St. Edwards University and Casa de Esperanza, a federal resource center for Latinas and Latin@ communities to end domestic violence, the report provides evidence on why women are facing these circumstances and what can be done to help.

In the last decade there has been an increase in the arrival of Latina immigrant women and their children from primarily Central American Countries.

The report shows that many women’s motivations to migrate and experiences during migration are often tied to violence, whether it be sexual or domestic. The majority have come from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras which are among the most dangerous places in the world for females.

They are also home to some of the world’s highest murder rates, that includes for women and young girls. Making matters worse is there are few consequences for perpetrators in those areas.

Dr. Laurie Cook, an assistant professor and social researcher at St. Edward’s University, interviewed hundreds of women after they were detained by immigration authorities for the report. Cook says these women are fleeing for many reasons but a majority is due to increasing violence in their home countries.

“Women are seeing more violence, whether it be domestic or sexual. We’ve heard from women that gang violence in the streets might be used against them by their own partners,” Cook said. “These issues go back a long time and for many, migration is only option they may have to survive. This violence is being used to control people.”

Many of these women and children know the risks that come with migrating. But they are left with little alternatives back home.

Many women know the dangers that lie ahead when attempting to migrate from Central America to the United States. There are countless stories and reports of sexual violence in caravan groups, yet that risk is worth escaping their lives back home.

“We hear from women they know the danger they face and its a known risk,” Cook said. “Migrating is the only choice, they know the risk of sexual violence, trafficking, those are possible risks so they still do it. there is no alternative.”

Even when some do reach the U.S. and seek asylum, the violence doesn’t end there.

In the last two years, the U.S .government apprehended more than 150,000 immigrant family units, primarily Central American women traveling with their children, according to the report. This huge influx has spiked the number of people being detained and kept in detention centers along the Southern U.S. border.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently detaining more than 50,000 immigrants at any given time. While the majority of detainees are men, the percentage of asylum-seeking women and girls, is rising.

According to Cook, the conditions and traumatic effects of detaining immigrants can damage mental health and cause post-traumatic stress. These effects can last years and even cause a lifetime of mental issues.

“Short or long term detention leaves a mark on their lives. The longer in detention means longer impact,” Cook said. “These places are clearly not a shelter, they’re more of a jail for families.”

The conditions in detention centers are alarming as many women have reported being sexually abused while being held. Cook notes there is relatively little accountability when it comes to these cases being reported which speaks to the overall culture and system within detention centers.

“Women movement is very restrictive and we hear reports of poor quality food and lack of services to legal help which leads to inconsistencies with what they’re being told,” Cook said. “There is a constant level of fear they face that includes cases of physical abuse, sexual abuse that are detrimental to their well being.”

What’s being done to help improve these conditions?

Cook says that there a better alternatives for women and children instead of being held in these detention centers. She recommends community based organizations like shelters that can better serve women and children. These centers would cost less and be more humane for women and children.

“The evidence is there and it shows that these practices are harmful to children and families. Community based centers are better alternatives and they insure that asylum seekers have access to information about their rights and immigration process,” Cook said. ‘ The fact is they’re just looking for a better life and these detention centers are leaving a long-lasting impact that will do more harm.”

Even when women do leave detention centers, being able to survive on their own is increasingly difficult. Factors like finding a job, a place to live and paying back debt, all lead to continued stress and trauma on their lives.

“Seeking asylum for persecution is a national human right,” Cook says. “And we truly lose sight of that.”

READ: The Trump Administration Will Soon Start DNA Testing Families At The Border

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Deaf Students At A Catholic School In Argentina Are Telling Their Story Of Abuse And Neglect By Priests

Things That Matter

Deaf Students At A Catholic School In Argentina Are Telling Their Story Of Abuse And Neglect By Priests

Jon Tyson / Flickr

Justice may soon be on the horizon for as many as 20 victims who say they were sexually abused, including cases of rape, between 2004 and 2016. Priests Nicola Corradi, 83, Horacio Corbacho, 59 and a former gardener Armando Gomez, 49, are all facing charges of sexually abusing deaf children in their care. The shocking case has sent shock waves through Argentina’s society and the Catholic church. The terrible acts occurred at the Provolo Institute in Mendoza, a Catholic school for deaf children that was founded in 1995 and in which Corradi headed until his arrest in November 2016.

People in Argentina are looking for answers and are asking how this horrendous crime could have happened?

Credit: @revistasemana / Twitter

The two priests and gardener appeared in court Monday to face their long-awaited charges of sexual abuse. The three men face prison sentences of up to 20 years in some cases, up to 50 years in others. The trial, which is expected to last two months, will hear testimony from 13 victims who suffered negligence and abuse between the ages of four and 17, relating to 43 offenses.

News of the abuse at the school broke at the end of 2016 and created a huge scandal. The scandal grew when it became clear that Rev. Corradi was behind the charges. It has been reported that Corradi was accused of similar allegations at the Antonio Próvolo institute in Verona, Italy. Pope Francis, an Argentine, has since been notified that Corradi was behind both allegations but has yet to comment publicly despite on the matter despite his close affiliation. 

There has already been one sentencing in wake of the scandal. Jorge Bordón, an institute employee, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last year on charges of rape, sexual touching, and corrupting minors.

One of the victims has spoken up about his emotions going into the trial and his search for justice. 

Credit: @news1130 / Twitter

Ezequiel Villalonga,18, is one of the victims of the pedophile priests, says that he was preyed upon at the school as a minor. Villalonga is deaf which makes the case even more heartbreaking. Now, he’s getting the chance to tell his story as the trial goes to court.

“I think that everything in the Church is fake. Everything they made us read, recite, the way (they said) people should live,” Villalonga told the AP in sign language right before the start of the priests’ trial on Monday. “I think they lie and that they’re demonic.”

Villalonga was sent to the school when he was 4 years old after his mother found out her son was deaf when he was only seven months old. For many of those years at Provo, he was only allowed to go home on weekends and spent the majority of his days there inside a massive building with little to no contact. Despite the school’s specialized mission in helping deaf children, he didn’t teach him how to speak during his time there. It was until he was an adult he learned sign language. 

“Life there was terrible. We didn’t learn anything, we couldn’t speak to each other because we didn’t know sign language,” he said. “We would write without knowing what it said, and when we asked other classmates, no one understood anything.”

Things haven’t been easier for his mom, Natalia, who says her family has had to pause their lives due to the case and the horrors that have happened to her son. 

“I am super-nervous, anxious and I hope for justice; that this ends soon so my son can move on to a new stage because this is very hard,” said Natalia Villalonga told the Washington Post.

While the trial is just getting started, the trauma and disbelief for many of the young victims have gone on for too long.

Credit: @Crux / Twitter

Paola Gonzalez’s daughter, Milagros, who is now 16 years old, had been one of those 20 abused while attending the Institute. Gonzalez was shocked and angry when she found out what had happened to her daughter at what she considered at one point, a prestigious institution. 

“You should have seen her little body when she went into (the Provolo). She was so small,” Gonzalez told the AP. “I don’t understand, I can’t imagine such evil. How could they do so much harm to such a fragile creature?” 

READ: A Brazilian Gang Leader Thought He Could Use A ‘Scooby-Doo’ Tactic To Escape Prison

Trump Has Made It More Difficult For Cubans To Seek Asylum So Many Are Being Forced To Settle In Mexico

Things That Matter

Trump Has Made It More Difficult For Cubans To Seek Asylum So Many Are Being Forced To Settle In Mexico

kpbs.org

Among the dilapidated buildings in Downtown Juárez lies Little Habana, a new restaurant emblazoned with Cuban flags, classic car art, and blasting reggaeton music providing the local growing community of Cuban asylum seekers a reminder of home. 

NPR recently reported about the new eatery that owner Cristina Ibarra opened four months ago once she noticed the burgeoning Cuban community that’s developing in the area.

She ran a taco business for 20 years before opening up a place that’s meant to evoke home for the refugees. 

“The Cubans leave their hotels and come to eat at the restaurant as if it were their own home,” Ibarra told NPR. “They stretch out, relax and talk. They share their experiences, their fears, their accomplishments … and that gives me tremendous satisfaction right now.”

The dishes are not interpretations but authentic recipes since all of her 14 employees are from the Caribbean island and advise her on menu items.

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Vamos a probar #ComidaCubana

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The menu includes traditional fare like ropa vieja, pork chunks in a tomato stew, and three different types of rice. Her efforts extend to the decor and interior as well with bright orange and yellow walls, art depicting a street scene in Cuba, and, naturally, the lone star amid the red, white, and blue of the Cuban flag hanging on the wall. 

The restaurant opening occurred around the time of a new policy introduced by the Trump administration nicknamed  “remain in Mexico” since it requires those seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed. Before the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy, those seeking asylum could reside in the U.S. while they waited. 

The number of Cubans at U.S. entry ports and categorized as “inadmissibles” by Customs and Border Protection continues to increase with more than 20,000 expected to seek entry this year.

In 2016 during the Obama administration,  the U.S. deported 64 Cubans but in 2018, the Trump administration deported 463 and this year that number will increase to 560, the LA Times added. 

So far this fiscal year, 6,312 Cubans have arrived in El Paso seeking asylum, whereas the previous fiscal year had 394, according to Custom and Border Protection figures 

“This is a terrible moment for Cuban migrants. There’s desperation and alarm because of the latest measures,” Yaimí González, a 41-year-old who fled Cuba three months ago, said to The Wall Street Journal.

“I just don’t see a solution to our situation,” González added. She now sells french fries at a stand in Ciudad Juárez making $10 a day, which barely pays for the guesthouse room that she shares with four Cuban male migrants, WSJ reports. 

Though MPP affects all asylum seekers, Cubans have historically received better treatment as they were viewed as political refugees.

For decades, Cubans caught at sea would be forced to return but if they stepped foot on U.S. soil they could stay and seek permanent residence after a year and a day. Obama ended the policy, known as “wet foot, dry foot” – in January 2017 and Trump has not reinstated it. 

Now the Trump administrations has banned U.S.-based cruise ships from traveling to Cuba, economically affected groups catering to tourists on the island, and he also imposed restrictions on sending money to the island. 

While they wait for a decision on their case, economics continue to plague Cuban migrants who find work where they can in order to pay for whatever housing they can find in what’s considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. 

NPR spoke with Melba, 32, a waitress at Little Habana who arrived in April and told them that she’s found meaning in her work as she tends to fellow Cubans who, like her, eagerly await to find out if they’ll ever make it to the U.S. 

She and her husband rent a hotel room for about $12 a day and she earns about $20 per day plus tips at the restaurant, NPR reports. This is in stark contrast to her life in Brazil, where she worked as a doctor for nearly a decade as part of a Cuban government exchange program, the LA Times reports. When she was asked what she’d say to Trump if she could, she told the publication, “In Cuba, there is no freedom like you live.”

As the Trump administration continues to make it harder for Cubans and fellow asylum seekers to gain admission to the U.S. and the economy on their island deteriorates, places like Little Habana provide not only a taste of home but a respite from the inhospitable treatment they otherwise receive outside the restaurant walls. 

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