• Sexual violence was the main risk identified by 23% of people surveyed by the IRC in northern Mexico in early 2022.

  • In the case of women, sexual violence was perceived as the main risk by 60%, mentioning additional factors such as domestic and economic violence.

  • The IRC is responding to gender-based violence in northern Mexico through a safe spaces and information access project funded by the European Union.

While levels of gender-based violence in Mexico increase, for women and girls on the move this is one of the main risks they experience, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warned. 

In northern border cities, sexual violence is the main risk perceived by 23% of asylum seekers surveyed by the IRC in early 2022. Among women, the proportion of those who considered it to be their main risk was significantly higher, being reported by 60%. Human trafficking was mentioned as the second main risk (14%), followed by domestic and economic violence (13%).

Estefani Beltrán del Río, Crossborder Protection Coordinator at the IRC, said:

“Unfortunately, although the escalation of violence against women and girls in Mexico has reached critical levels, it has been normalized for so long that it is at risk of being invisibilized. A couple of months ago, for instance, it was reported that, of the more than 50 million women and girls aged 15 or over in our country, 70% had experienced some kind of violence during their lives. 

“Gender-based violence is definitely part of the everyday dangers that women face in Mexico. When women are displaced from their homes, and find themselves on the move and trying to reach safety, the exposure to this risk disproportionately increases. In a country like Mexico–that is at the same time a place of origin, transit and potential destination for asylum seekers–we need to ensure that existing protection mechanisms are strengthened to create the conditions for women and girls to rebuild their lives free of violence.”

In the context of unprecedented displacement from, through and towards Mexico, the IRC is providing integrated protection services as part of a regional project funded by the European Union (EU). In Mexico’s northern border, the project 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 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. 

The IRC’s response in Mexico 

In 2019, the IRC launched operations in Mexico to respond to humanitarian needs of asylum seekers stuck at the U.S. border as a consequence of policies like the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and Title 42. Since then, the IRC has expanded to respond along the main migration corridors in Mexico: from the southern to the northern borders and along the routes through the country. 

Currently, the IRC’s programs offer a timely and comprehensive response to the most urgent needs of people on the move, including: economic recovery and development; mental health and psychosocial support; child protection; multipurpose cash assistance to meet people’s basic needs; prevention and response to gender-based violence; access to critical information through InfoDigna, a multi-channel information platform; as well as identifying needs and referring cases to local service providers. Additionally, the IRC is supporting local integration efforts by providing cultural orientation to individuals who have chosen to stay in Mexico.