Things That Matter

A Researcher Created A Map To Track All Of The Women That Are Murdered In Mexico

The violence against women in Mexico continues to rise to alarming rates. They are dying at the hands of domestic assailants as well as organized crime culprits. In 2018, 3,580 women and girls were killed in Mexico, the Associated Press reports. 

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is aiming to curtail this epidemic under his new administration by conducting thorough murder investigations, having a stronger judicial system to prosecute offenders and, among other initiatives, to search for women who are missing as soon as it’s reported.

“All of them have a common factor: the lack of timely and diligent intervention by the Mexican state to preserve their integrity and to ensure their lives,” Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero said, according to the AP.

Until the new government gets their act together, one woman is making sure the death of every woman in Mexico doesn’t go unnoticed. 

María Salguero, a geophysics scholar, and researcher, has created a mapping system to keep track of each woman that is murdered in Mexico. 

According to news reports, Salguero said that worldwide attention (or at least in the U.S. and in Mexico) surrounded the deaths of women that occurred only in Ciudad de Juarez. She said she wanted to not only track the deaths of women all over Mexico but also to have their names in a recorded document because it’s crucial to name them. 

She began tracking the femicide in her country in 2016 and initially began by getting Google alerts of violence against women. 

Since she first started the project, Salguero has obtained the records of “more than 6,000 cases of femicide dating back to 2011. In 27 cases, authorities were unable to establish the woman’s identity. In 70 cases, the victim was a trans woman,” Open Democracy states. 

Her tracking system is detailed and includes the victim’s name, where their body was found, and of course the city and state. 

This work is a labor of love for Salguero who works full-time at the National Search Commission of Mexico. She said she works on the mapping system on her off time and it takes up to five hours a day, depending on the workload. 

According to Salguero’s tracking system, the overwhelming majority of femicide is occurring in the state of Mexico.

Her report, which is also verified by state records, show that in 2018 400 women died in Mexico state, followed by Guanajuato, Baja California, Guerrero, and Jalisco. The state with the least murders is Yucatan. 

She also notes that the numbers provided by country officials may not be accurate and could be a lot higher than they are reporting. 

“Only a part of the problem is documented by the press and not all. There is a 15 percent national bias in the official data. There are women who arrive injured in health systems and die because of the seriousness of the injuries and are not reported by the press, women who are murdered or in their homes or communities far away and there was not a means to cover them,” she said. “The bodies which are found but the sex is undetermined, are cases that can not be documented.”

Women in Mexico don’t just live in fear of death, but they also endure day-to-day harassment.

According to a United Nations report, a survey showed that almost 90 percent of women experience sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence in public spaces in Mexico City alone. These public places include subways, buses, and streets. 

Yeliz Osman, Safe Cities, and Safe Public Spaces Programme Coordinator at UN Women in Mexico said that the same harassment that women face in Mexico is the same in other parts of the world. “The overwhelming majority of women who participated in focus groups said that they experience some form of sexual harassment in their daily journeys. She adds, “These behaviors have been so normalized and naturalized within societies that women themselves don’t often consider it important enough to report and men don’t even realize in many cases that this is actually a form of violence and the impact that it has on women and girls.”

Click here to visit Salguero’s tracking system of femicides in Mexico.

Letty Serrano Was Abducted And Trafficked For Sex At 13; Two Years Later She Committed Suicide

Things That Matter

Letty Serrano Was Abducted And Trafficked For Sex At 13; Two Years Later She Committed Suicide

Leticia Serrano, known to her friends and family as Letty, celebrated her 15th birthday with a quinceañera party complete with a ruby-red princess gown, bouquets of roses and a dessert bar earlier, in May this year. Six months later, the teen took her own life, just two years after being drugged, abducted and abused by a sex-trafficker in Houston. 

Unfortunately, this story is not all that uncommon for victims of sex-trafficking. 

Letty’s suicide came two years after she was abducted by a sex trafficker.

credit Facebook Cynthia Rivera

Letty Serrano was a high-achieving 13 yeard old student at Marshall Middle School in 2017 when she was drugged and taken by a sex trafficker not far from her school in Houston, Texas. According to her family, Leticia’s dad and godmother Cynthia Rivera spent days searching for the teenager before they found her inside an abandoned home near Moody Park. They took her to safety and reported the captor to the police. 

Letty’s family said that the girl they brought back home was not the same girl who had left. 

“We got her back damaged,” said Rivera, Letty’s godmother. After her rescue, Letty ran away from home on two occasions, to be with her abductor. Letty took her life early Saturday morning after locking herself in the bathroom. Her father recalls doing everything he could to reach her but when he finally did, it was too late. Serrano believes Letty couldn’t get over being away from the man who trafficked her two years prior. “She wanted to be with him,” he said holding back tears in a video interview. “But, she also didn’t want to hurt her family.” 

The man was said to prey on teen’s weaknesses, taking advantage of the fact that Letty was a loner at school and that her brother had recently died. To make matters worse, the abductor and presumed sex trafficker was freed from jail 3 days after being arrested and never faced charges. “It’s a very common story, unfortunately,” said Micah Gamboa, executive director of Elijah Rising. “We see in Houston, a lot of times these pimps and these traffickers get off with just a misdemeanor or maybe deferred adjudication.” 

Sex traffic is spreading across the nation.

credit Instagram @elijahrising

The Christian-based nonprofit organization Elijah Rising, whose mission is to end sex trafficking through prayer and intervention, claims there are more than 300,000 trafficking victims in Texas. “Entire cities are becoming red-light districts. It’s no longer just a centralized or isolated issue,” she explained. “It’s actually spreading across the nation.”  According to Elijah Rising, suicide is, sadly, a common conclusion for many victims, in part, because their abusers aren’t usually caught.

Activists are trying to squash the myth that all women who work as prostitutes do so because they want to.

credit Twitter @DanielleDolor

“Prostitution isn’t people deferring entrance to Yale while they prostitute to raise money for tuition—that’s not the reality of what it looks like,” said Nicole Bell, who worked as a prostitute after being trafficked as a teen. “We’re looking at people in poverty, people of color, people coming out of the foster care system.” Human trafficking is estimated to bring in global profits of about $150 billion a year—$99 billion from sexual exploitation, according to the International Labor Organization. Nearly 9,000 cases in the U.S. were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline and BeFree Textline in 2017—a 13% increase from the prior year, according to the Polaris Project. But this data is incomplete, as cases are severely underreported.

Houston Police Deparment is looking into reopening the case of the man who abducted, drugged, and abused Letty.

Credit Facebook Cynthia Rivera

Commander Jim Dale of Houston Police Department spoke to Fox 26 about Letty’s tragic story. “I have requested an interview with my investigators so we can reopen the case,” he says this story also speaks to the need to do more in training in schools just like it’s done in the hospitality industry and transportation hubs. “She was a victim and somehow her cries fell through the cracks and I think that’s why it’s so imperative that we get the schools involved.”

Letty’s family is calling on schools to do more around suicide prevention and wants the city council to do something about the brothel where they found their little girl.

credit Facebook Cynthia Rivera

Letty’s godmother Cynthia Rivera is also calling on schools for more preventative measures. She says the family met with school officials on Tuesday afternoon. Rivera is also urging her city council district to do more about the abandoned houses, presumed brothels, where she says Letty was trafficked and, ultimately, found. “Mattresses, little girls bras, chemicals they use to drugs to mix with,” Rivera said referring to the items found in the house. “I want the community to come together,” she added. “Houston [needs] to come together and ask for these houses to be removed, torn down.”

If you or a loved one is having suicidal thoughts, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you are a victim of human trafficking or suspect someone who now is a victim, contact the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

New Study Shows That Mexican Teenagers Are Among The Most Addicted To Their Cellphones

Things That Matter

New Study Shows That Mexican Teenagers Are Among The Most Addicted To Their Cellphones

Unsplash

We don’t need a research study to tell us that we’re more addicted to our phones than ever before. Still, the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism united with nonprofit Common Sense to give us The New Normal: Parents, Teens and Mobile Devices in Mexico,” and the findings are interesting. The survey is based on more than 1,200 Mexican teens and their parents and was led by Dean Willow Bay and Common Sense CEO James P. Steyer. Mexico is just the fourth country surveyed in a global mapping project to better understand the role smartphones play in “the new normal” of today’s family life.

The study found that nearly half (45 percent) of Mexican teens said they feel “addicted” (in the non-clinical, colloquial way) to their phones. That’s 15 percent higher than found in the United States and 265 percent higher than in Japan. Now we want to know how Latino-Americans stack up because this all feels pretty familiar.

1. Checking mobile devices has become a priority in the daily lives of teens and their parents.

Credit: Unsplash

Interestingly, more parents than teens reported using their phones almost all the time. That’s 71 percent of parents and 67 percent of their children reporting near-constant use of their phones. Nearly half of parents and their teens report checking their phones several times an hour. Meanwhile, only 2 percent of the respondents said they never feel the need to immediately respond to a text, social media networking messages, or other notification.

2. Most teens (67 percent) check their phone within 30 minutes of waking up in the morning. For some, their attachment to their phone interrupts their sleep.

Credit: Unsplash

In fact, a third of teens and a fourth of parents check their phone within five minutes of waking up. More than a third of teens (35 percent) and parents (34 percent) wake up in the middle of the night at least once to check their phone for “something other than the time: text messages, email, or social media,” according to the report

3. Parents and teens alike are judging each other’s phone use.

Credit: Unsplash

Somos chismosos by heart, so of course, 82 percent of parents think their child is distracted daily, often several times daily, by their phone use. Over half of teens feel the same way about their parents. Seriously, how much Candy Crush is too much Candy Crush? On top of that, 64 percent of parents believe their child is “addicted” to their phone while 31 percent of teens feel their parent is “addicted” as well. That said, only 40 percent of teens felt their parents worried too much about their social media use, but 60 percent of teens said their parents would be “a lot more worried if they knew what actually happens on social media,” according to the study.

4. If a parent feels “addicted,” they’re more likely to have a child that “feels addicted,” too.

Credit: Unsplash

Half of both parents and teens self-identify as feeling addicted to their phones. That said, three quarters of the 45% parent pool who reported feeling addicted ended up having a teen who self-reported as feeling addicted, too. That means there are about a third of households where everyone “feels addicted” to their device. In a similar vein, that meant that roughly 2 in 5 Mexicans are trying to cut back their time spent on their phone. 

5. Mexican teens’ favorite way to communicate with friends was via text (67 percent)…not hanging out in person.

Credit: Unsplash

Only half (50 percent) of teens said one of their favorite ways to communicate with friends was in person, which narrowly beat social media (49 percent) by just one percentage point. Talking on the phone (40 percent) didn’t come in the last place though. That slot is reserved for video chatting at 22 percent.

6. If they had to go a day without their phone, the majority of respondents said they would feel happy or free.

Credit: Unsplash

While the majority of teens said they would feel at least somewhat happy (73 percent), free (67 percent), or relieved (64 percent), they also expected to feel at least somewhat bored (63 percent), or anxious (63 percent), or lonely (31 percent). Compared to teens, more parents reported that they’d expect to feel happy (79 percent), free (77 percent), or relieved
(73 percent). 

7. The majority of both parents and teens think device use is hurting their family relationships.

Credit: Unsplash

Nearly a third of parents said they argue once a day with their teen about their excessive use of their phone, and that screen use, in fact, ranks third behind bedtime and chores as their regular conflicts. “My parents are very concerned about this,” teen Guadalupe Mireya Espinosa Cortés told Common Sense Media. “They are all the time telling us, ‘Oh, don’t use the phone while we are eating together. Hey, we are on vacation. Don’t use the phone, please’ and I agree. I think there are priorities and we have to be intelligent to know when and where to use our phones.”

Overall, most Mexican families still agree on the benefits of the technology, citing tech skills, access to information, building relationships and keeping in touch with extended families as reasons that mobile devices are worth their while.

READ: Facebook Wants To Add Latinas In Tech To Their Teams And Offer Them A Slice Of Their Big Salary Earning Pie