Four out of ten adolescents Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico identify social or community violence as a daily problem in their community and one in five (19.1%) think that it is a reason to migrate, according to the report “Women in crisis: life in contexts of mobility in the region of Central America and Mexico” of the NGO Plan International.
The study, prepared with the support of the European Union’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection and other partners, explores and analyzes the views of adolescent girls in these four countries on education, violence, internal mobility and migration. based on surveys, different focus groups and interviews with adolescents, fathers, mothers, caregivers and key actors.
Central America is one of the regions with the greatest poverty and vulnerability situation in the world, due to a combination of factors such as inequality based on gender and age. 7.9 million migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean are under 18 years of age, and girls and adolescents represent 20% of all women who migrate.
However, the violence experienced in their countries of origin increases and changes during transit, and during migration they are exposed to much greater risks such as trafficking, kidnapping or extortion. “Adolescent women face day after day threats that put their lives at risk when migrating in Central America. We are working on a response that protects families and mainly adolescents in these contexts to prevent violence, school dropout and risks during displacement,” said Débora Cóbar, regional director of Plan International for the Americas and the Caribbean. “The report reveals that adolescents from the northern triangle of Central America and Mexico face serious situations of violence and discrimination on a daily basis. The violence and the lack of opportunities force them to abandon their education and push them to flee, in a migratory transit in which they suffer new violations of their rights, often repeated on their return to their country of origin”, he assured Shell Lopez, CEO of Plan International.
For adolescents, violence in family, community and educational environments, the lack of economic opportunities, the search for employment and training opportunities are the main reasons for migrating internally or for leaving their country. 45.7% of adolescents indicate lack of employment as a reason for migrating, followed by violence (19.1%), difficulty in accessing education (11.7%) and insecurity (7.4% ).
“Sometimes people emigrate because of situations of violence, because there is abuse in their homes or community, because there are symptoms of violence. Here it is like a closed door, we don’t see opportunities”, explained an 18-year-old adolescent interviewed in El Salvador. “My dad was violent, he hit us a lot all the time and he came to abuse us, my sister and me, that’s why we came, so that it wouldn’t happen again, we went out with my other brothers and my aunt and now here We feel better, calmer”assured an adolescent of Honduran origin interviewed in Mexico by Plan International.
In addition, living in a permanent state of risk and alarm limits their freedom both in the public and private space and restricts their sexual and reproductive rights, which are interrupted during migratory transit. The fact of menstruating or traveling pregnant implies additional risks and difficulties during the journeys. In the absence of effective complaint mechanisms, adolescents generate protection strategies to prevent sexual violence and reprisals from organized criminal groups: “My mom had to dress me as a man almost all the way to prevent something from happening to me, and here when we have to go out for some paperwork, I feel insecure”, affirmed a 15-year-old Venezuelan adolescent, interviewed in Mexico.
Migration interrupts the education of girls and adolescents, compromising their future In many cases, the education of girls and adolescents is interrupted indefinitely during migration, hindering their opportunities for the future and their reintegration into school both in host countries and in in their countries of origin. Bureaucratic difficulties affect access for migrating students, and although 59.6% consider the school a safe space, one in three say it is unsafe due to physical, emotional, sexual and psychological violence, also on the way.