Day 4 – Ixtepec, Oaxaca
Doris, a Honduran woman participating in the Migrant Rights Caravan Paso a Paso Hacia la Paz (Step by Step Towards Peace), walks up the steps of the caravan bus and throws two fists in the air for all to see.
“Yeah!” she shouts, “We did it!”
Everyone else on the bus cheers. After over three years of not having any news of her daughter, she finally has been given a clue. As the migrant rights caravan passed through Arriaga, Chiapas, the local authorities informed her that they might know where her daughter was. Doris went with them to fill out some paperwork and, when she came back to join the rest of us on the bus, she was full of smiles.
But as I spoke with Doris later on in the evening, her eyes were full of worry. “Well, they think she might be in a cantina working as a prostitute,” she tells me. “I had to go with them to register a complaint so they can begin to investigate the case.”
As it turns out, Doris’s account of her daughter’s disappearance is what tipped off the authorities to her possible situation. When the daughter, Daynara, called her mom soon after leaving from Honduras on her way to the US in 2007, she told her that she had arrived in Tapachula and was going to work there for a bit to earn more money to send home to her mother. However, the money never arrived, and when Doris called back the number her daughter had given her the following February, the young woman’s voice had changed. She sounded distant and sad. After that call, all communication was lost, and the phone line Doris had been calling was cut off.
Unfortunately, the possibility that Daynara had been trafficked into commercial sex work is a very real possibility. Central American woman in Mexico are frequently tricked into this line of work. They are given a job as a waitress in a bar, but then and are pressured into beginning to sell their bodies. In other cases, the sheers desperation to earn money to survive and send to their families drives women into the work. Even among migrant women who don’t stop an work in Mexican cities, sexual exploitation, sexual assault and rape are ever-present dangers along the migrant trail. According to Amnesty International, 6 out of every 10 women who cross Mexico as migrants are raped.
So while the news of her daughter brings Doris some relief and renewed hope, the horror of these possibilities of what her daughter may have been through race through her head. Like any mother, she wants to take care of her daughter, protect her from harm. This desire is clear as she leans forward and tells me in a soft voice, “Well if she’s had a rough time, I’ll do whatever I can to take her home with me to Honduras.”
Read previous posts in the series “Reflections from a Migrant Rights Caravan”:
Part 1: Step by Step Towards Peace–A Six-Day Caravan for Migrants’ Rights
Part 4: The Graves in Arriaga