Prostitution in Mexico

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A street prostitute in Zona Norte, Tijuana

Prostitution in Mexico is legal, but the laws vary by state; 18 of the 32 states of Mexico regulate prostitution.[1] Prostitution involving minors under 18 is illegal, but such activities are common and represent a serious problem.[2] Some Mexican cities have enacted tolerance zones which allow regulated prostitution and function as red light districts. In most parts of the country pimping is illegal. The government provides shelter for former prostitutes.[3]


Child prostitution and child sex tourism

Child prostitution is a serious problem in the country. Mexico is a destination for paedophiles who engage in child sex tourism; Mexico is one of the leading hotspots of child sexual exploitation, along with Thailand, Cambodia, Colombia, India, and Brazil.[4]

A study by UNICEF Mexico and the DIF/National System for Integral Family Development estimated that more than 16,000 children in Mexico were involved in prostitution (in June 2000);[5] a 2004 study by researcher Elena Azaola estimated that some 17,000 children under the age of 18 are victims of the sex trade in Mexico;[6] the State System of Integral Family Development (DIF) reported that more than 20,000 minors were victims of child prostitution in Mexico in 2005, an increase since the year 2000.[7]

Out of Mexico City’s 13,000 street children, 95% have already had at least one sexual encounter with an adult (many of them through prostitution).[4]

In the impoverished southern state of Chiapas, children are sold for as little as 100 to 200 dollars, according to human rights groups. That area is considered one of the worst places in the world in terms of child prostitution.[4]

Poverty forces many rural children, with or without their families, to migrate to urban cities to seek out employment, some of them also migrate across the border to the US. These children have little or no parental supervision and many are lured into the sex industry or abducted by criminal child trafficking gangs.

Child sex tourism is most prevalent in the northern border area and in resort areas. The cities where child sexual abuse occurs most frequently are Tijuana, Acapulco, Cancún and Guadalajara. The US-Mexican border is one of the main centers for child sex tourism. Children are sexually exploited through networks involving foreigners, military, police, government and business officials.[8]

Human trafficking and crime

Mexico is a source, transit, and destination country for persons trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. Poverty, corruption and the violent drug war have contributed to the proliferation of sexual slavery in the country; much of the sex business is controlled by criminal gangs.

Groups considered most vulnerable to human trafficking include women and children, indigenous persons, and undocumented migrants.[9]

Young female migrants recounted being robbed, beaten, and raped by members of criminal gangs and then forced to work in table dance bars or as prostitutes under threat of further harm to them or their families.[10]

The vast majority of non-Mexican trafficking victims come from Central America; lesser numbers come from Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, China, Taiwan, South Korea, India, Argentina, and Eastern European countries. Victims are also trafficked to the United States.[10]

See also


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