Washington International Law Journal


Mexico is a transit country for hundreds of thousands of migrants traveling north. Due to economic liberalization, women increasingly migrate in search of employment opportunities, a phenomenon called the “feminization of migration.” As women migrate, they face high risks of sexual and gender-based violence, including sexual assault, rape, kidnapping, and trafficking. During transit, the impunity of organized criminal groups and corrupt state officials facilitate rampant abuse of women. Mexico’s former migration policy exacerbated women’s vulnerability to abuse by criminal organizations by pushing women into dangerous illicit migration channels. In response to the abuse of transmigrants, Mexico passed a sweeping migration reform bill in May of 2011, effective as of November 2012. While the law’s rhetoric recognizes women as a vulnerable group, applying a gender lens to the law reveals that it fails to create structures that will adequately mitigate or prevent abuses of women migrants. True protection of women migrants requires a regional solution that responds to the gendered economic factors propelling migration, creating legal migration channels for women labor migrants in order to alter vulnerable patterns of transit.

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