Ahead of International Women’s Day, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Mexico recognizes the plight of women who are pushed out of their homes by violence (and continue encountering it on the route), and calls for the strengthening of protection systems. 

Mexico is a dangerous country for women. On average, 10 women are murdered on a single day—amounting to nearly 18,000 since 2018—and seven in ten have experienced some type of violence throughout their lives. Among female asylum seekers, six in ten perceive sexual violence as the main risk, compared to 23% across all asylum seekers interviewed by the IRC in 2022. 

Estefani Beltrán del Río, Integrated Protection Coordinator at the IRC in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, said:

“While Mexico has become one of the largest receivers of asylum claims worldwide, it can still be a dangerous place for people on the move, especially for women. We have identified sexual violence as one of the main risks perceived by women surveyed by the IRC in northern Mexico, in addition to human trafficking and domestic and economic violence. 

“In contexts where violence is on the rise, as women experience along the U.S.-Mexico border, stronger protection and asylum systems are urgent to help them recover and rebuild their lives. Our IRC team provides case management for women and girls who have survived gender-based to make sure they access the protection services they need. We also work with groups of women in different shelters in northern Mexico to provide them with tools that they can use to identify and express their feelings, concerns and needs. Through these groups, we foster the creation of support networks and raise awareness on gender-based violence issues, offering psychosocial support during women’s recovery process.” 

Mexico is not only a receiver of asylum seekers, but a place of origin and transit for those who cannot find safety there and see in the U.S. their only alternative. Due to current border restrictions, for many the journey prematurely ends in northern border cities in Mexico, where they are exposed to several risks. Danger is particularly dire for displaced women: in a previously published IRC report, the main risks that surveyed women pointed out included sexual violence, mentioned by 60% of them; human trafficking (14%) and domestic and economic violence (13%). 

As Mexico experiences an unprecedented displacement phenomenon, the IRC is providing integrated protection services as part of a regional project funded by the European Union (EU). The IRC’s response includes the creation of safe spaces that allow women, girls, children and members of the LGBTQ+ community to find a physical and emotional place to receive protection services that span from psychosocial support and case management for survivors of gender-based violence to awareness activities. The sessions allow for moments of reflection on different topics, including identification of violence and the danger of misconceptions around romantic love.

The EU-funded project also includes promoting access to trustworthy and up-to-date information through InfoDigna, a digital platform that is part of the global Signpost project and powered by Zendesk. InfoDigna also provides tailored support via trained moderators that follow-up on users’ cases, providing orientation and helping them connect with service providers according to their needs.