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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                      

United Mexican States (Mexico)

Mexico has a free market economy in the trillion dollar class. It contains a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture, increasingly dominated by the private sector.

Per capita income is one-fourth that of the US; income distribution remains highly unequal.

The administration continues to face many economic challenges including the need to upgrade infrastructure, modernize labor laws, and allow private investment in the energy

Description: Description: Mexico

sector. Calderon has stated that his top economic priorities remain reducing poverty and creating jobs.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Mexico.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

Procuraduria General de la Republica
5346 0000
Country code: 52-



Mexican Journalist Risks Life to Expose Child Sex Rings

R.M. Arrieta, El Tecolote, San Francisco, Apr 29, 2007

[accessed 4 February 2015]

Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho is exposing the players in these Cancun-based sex rings, and risking her life for it.

Her awareness led her to a life of activism and journalism. She started a high-security shelter for abused women in Cancun where children opened up to her about the dark underworld of child porn rings and prostitution.  As a result, she says, “I’ve been taken to jail for telling other people’s stories. No one imagines that Cancun has this dark side.”

The underage sex rings she has exposed include Mexico’s rich and powerful. Mexico is a country that doesn’t take kindly to exposure of corruption and greed.  Currently the country is in the crosshairs of a violent drug war and some 17 journalists have been killed in the past five years for attempting to expose the corruption. Cacho, herself, is a target.

Child Prostitution: A Growing Scourge

W. E. Gutman, The Panama News, Vol. 10, No. 7, Tegucigalpa, April - 17, 2004

[accessed 20 June 2011]

[accessed 5 November 2016]

[accessed 23 October 2017]

A REGION OUT OF CONTROL - Mexico - More than 16,000 children are sexually exploited through networks involving foreigners and military, police, government and business officials.  In Juarez alone, nearly 1,000 children are being sexually exploited, and in Guadalajara, officials report 750 cases of child prostitution.  The US-Mexican border is one of the main centers for child sex tourism.

Sterile at Age 12, AIDS at 14

Diego Cevallos, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, MEXICO CITY, February 10, 1998

[accessed 6 October 2012]

Thousands of children in Mexico, victims of mafias involved in the appalling but profitable business of child prostitution and pornography, face a dismal future: sterility at age 12, an abortion at 13 or AIDS at 14.

There is “great demand” for child prostitution and pornography, whose main victims are children who live and work in the streets, “greater than the demand for adults and even more profitable,” says a government report released this week.

According to the UN children’s fund, UNICEF, nine million children – out of a total population of 91 million – live in absolute poverty in Mexico, 60,000 of them on the streets.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

ECPAT International, 2014

[accessed 3 September 2020]


Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Mexico. The report looks at protection mechanisms, responses, preventive measures, child and youth participation in fighting SEC, and makes recommendations for action against SEC.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 3 September 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and authorities generally enforced the law. Nonetheless, NGOs reported sexual exploitation of minors, as well as child sex tourism in resort towns and northern border areas.

Statutory rape is a federal crime. If an adult is convicted of having sexual relations with a minor, the penalty is between three months and 30 years’ imprisonment depending on the age of the victim. Conviction for selling, distributing, or promoting pornography to a minor stipulates a prison term of six months to five years. For involving minors in acts of sexual exhibitionism or the production, facilitation, reproduction, distribution, sale, and purchase of child pornography, the law mandates seven to 12 years’ imprisonment and a fine.

Perpetrators convicted of promoting, publicizing, or facilitating sexual tourism involving minors face seven to 12 years’ imprisonment and a fine. Conviction for sexual exploitation of a minor carries an eight- to 15-year prison sentence and a fine.

The leader of the Light of the World megachurch is being held in U.S. custody on rape, trafficking and child pornography charges

Christine Murray, Thomson Reuters Foundation,  17 August 2020

[accessed 18 August 2020]

The leader of the church is being held in U.S. custody on rape, human trafficking and child pornography charges, but a report filed with Mexican authorities in July 2019 has not progressed, they said.

Sochil Martin, who complained to Mexican prosecutors and earlier this year filed a U.S. civil suit, has claimed she was abused for 22 years as she grew up in the church.

She has said she was enslaved and trafficked by church leaders in California and Mexico, repeatedly raped and severely beaten.

Martin has said her family groomed her from childhood to become a sexual slave to its leaders until she escaped the church, which is headquartered in Guadalajara and follows what it says are early Christian teachings.

Leader Naason Joaquin Garcia, who is being held in California on $90 million bail, has maintained his innocence.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, , 8 October 1999

[accessed 20 February 2011]

[31] In view of the assessment and recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography regarding the situation of the sexual exploitation of children in Mexico, the Committee welcomes the measures taken by the State party to combat this phenomenon, in particular, the establishment of the Inter-institutional Commission to Eradicate the Sexual Exploitation of Children.

[32] While the Committee is aware of the measures taken by the State party on the situation of repatriated children (menores fronterizos), it remains particularly concerned that a great number of these children are victims of trafficking networks, which use them for sexual or economic exploitation. Concern is also expressed about the increasing number of cases of trafficking and sale of children from neighboring countries who are brought into the State party to work in prostitution.

Mozambique: Press Freedom Prize for Campaigning Mexican Journalist

Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo, 4 May 2008

[partially accessed 20 June 2011 - access restricted]

Of the 11 winners of the prize to date, three of them were unable to attend the prize-giving ceremonies because they were in jail, and one (last year's winner, the Russian Anna Politkovskaya) because she had been murdered. Lidia Cacho was more fortunate - she was in Maputo in person, but during her career she has been beaten, jailed and subject to repeated death threats because of her articles denouncing crime and corruption among the Mexican elite.

A freelance reporter based in Cancun, Cacho has contributed regularly to the daily newspaper "La Voz del Caribe", denouncing organised rings of child prostitution and paedophilia, and other instances of organised crime. She wrote a book, "Demons of Eden", which named prominent politicians involved in child prostitution rackets.

"This award", Cacho said, "may not protect me from death threats or from death itself. But it certainly helps to protect my written work and to enable a broader audience to know and understand the Mexican reality and the impact of the global crimes of trafficking in persons and of child pornography"

Gateways to exploitation

Globe and Mail Update, Nov. 10, 2007

[accessed 6 October 2012]

MEXICO - An extensive study by Unicef Mexico and the DIF/National System for Integral Family Development reveals that more than 16,000 children in Mexico were involved in prostitution in June of 2000. The numbers are not definitive because of the covert nature of the sex trade. The study found that girls, mostly 13 to 17 years old, were prostitutes in Acapulco and Cancun, working out of cafés and bars where they were waitresses. Massage parlours and escort agencies often offer sexual services and openly promote this fact in the media.

MEXICO: Key Video Evidence Blocked in Child Sex Ring Trial

Diego Cevallos, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Mexico City, Sep 5 , 2007

[accessed 20 June 2011]

[accessed 13 November 2016]

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. Like Cacho’s book, her study was based on interviews with minors who managed to escape. In addition, the researcher collected information in visits to establishments where underage girls and boys were forced to work as prostitutes.

RIGHTS-MEXICO: 16,000 Victims of Child Sexual Exploitation

Emilio Godoy, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Mexico City, Aug 13 , 2007

[accessed 20 February 2011]

[accessed 13 November 2016]

International organisations fighting child sex tourism say Mexico is one of the leading hotspots of child sexual exploitation, along with Thailand, Cambodia, India, and Brazil.

Another chilling statistic is that 95 percent of Mexico City’s 13,000 street children have already had at least one sexual encounter with an adult.

Many girls and boys are lured to Mexico City from small towns or rural areas by criminal networks, through false promises of domestic work or other jobs. – htsccp

Child Pornography and Human Trafficking: Cancun's Dark Side

Heather Gehlert, AlterNet, May 3, 2007 -- A conversation with human rights activist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro on the coastal city's violence and abuses -- and her lifelong mission to combat them

[accessed 20 June 2011]

Cacho, one of Mexico's leading defenders of women's and children's rights, often risks her own life to tell the stories of those who cannot speak out for themselves. An investigative journalist and gender-based violence specialist, Cacho runs a crisis center and shelter in Cancun, a spring break hotspot where white, sandy beaches and breathtaking coastal views give way to a harsher reality -- one of sexual exploitation, domestic violence, human trafficking and child pornography. Her 2005 book, "The Demons of Eden," exposes Cancun as a destination for child sex tourism.

Child Sex Abuse - Everybody Knows, Nobody Says

Diego Cevallos, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Mexico City, Mar 9, 2007

[accessed 20 June 2011]

[accessed 13 November 2016]

Casa Alianza, which works with homeless children in several Central American countries, estimates that between 35,000 and 50,000 children are forced into prostitution in the region, and says that one of the driving forces behind the abuses is, in fact, tourism.

As for Mexico, the End Child Prostitution, Pornography, and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) network said it has become the major sex tourism destination in the Americas. The number of children subjected to this form of exploitation is estimated here at between 16,000 and 20,000.

16,000 Mexican children suffer sexual abuse

Xinhua News Agency, October 26, 2006

[accessed 20 June 2011]

According to the official, 10 per cent of child prostitution took place in working-class areas like La Merced, Garibaldi and Centro Historico, where adult prostitution is an established tradition.  The DIF president said in La Merced -- a sprawling market surrounded by slums -- there are more than 2,000 prostitutes, of whom half are underage.

Payán: Thousands abused each year

Wire services, El Universal, April 26, 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 20 June 2011]

More than 20,000 minors were victims of child prostitution in Mexico during 2005, the State System of Integral Family Development (DIF) reported to the press on Tuesday.

DIF President Ana Rosa Payán said in the news conference that child abuse has increased considerably in the country since 2000 when there were 16,000 cases of these violations reported.

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – MEXICO – Over the last year, the states of Cancún, Tijuana and Guadalajara have developed state plans of action against CSEC, thus complementing the national plan of action.  Inter-institutional commissions to develop state plans have also been established in Acapulco, Ciudad Juarez and Tapachula. In terms of the national plan of action, Mexican NGOs have criticized the government for its failure to allocate adequate resources for the implementation of the national plan of action. It has also been said that the national plan is a little known document that contains no indicators to monitor its progress. Despite these criticisms, some activities have been carried out over the last year to implement the national plan of action.

Child prostitution on rise in border town

United Press International UPI, Tijuana, April 4, 2005

[accessed 20 June 2011]

Child prostitution in the U.S.-Mexico border city of Tijuana is a growing problem receiving little government attention, El Universal reported Monday.  A recent study of child sexual abuse in 100 Mexican cities estimated Tijuana was home to some 5,000 children "at-risk" of being forced into the sex trade.

Threats Against Sinaloa Journalist Who Investigated Child Prostitution

Reporters-sans-frontieres (Reporters Without Borders), 3 February 2004

[accessed 13 Aug  2013]

Reporters Without Borders today called on the state prosecutor of the northern state of Sinaloa to do everything possible to identify those responsible for the threats of the past few months against Irene Medrano Villanueva, who has been investigating child prostitution for some time.  In a report published on 6 December, she suggested that education department employees were involved in the corruption of minors and a presumed prostitution network.

Underage Sex Workers in Mexico

The Panama News

[accessed 6 October 2012]

[scroll down]

Mexico has no laws defining or sanctioning child prostitution as criminal activity.  An estimated 5,000 children are currently involved in prostitution, pornography and sex-tourism in Mexico.  But Rosa Marta Cortina de Brown of the Female Association of Tourist Enterprise Executive estimates that 250,000 children between 10 and 16 have been the victims of "sexual tourism" in cities like Guadalajara, Cancun, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Tijuana.

Boy and Girl Victims of Sexual Exploitation in Mexico [PDF]

Elena Azaola, United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF and The National System for Integral Family Development DIF, June 2000

[accessed 20 June 2011]

The principal objectives behind the study are:  1) to identify the nature, extension and causes of the commercial sexual exploitation of girls and boys in the towns chosen;  2) to identify the ways in which they are recruited, the modes of operating and movement of the children from one region to another by the persons who exploit them and,  3) to collaborate closely with the local and national authorities in order to collect the information that is needed and use it to design policies that will make it possible to confront the phenomenon and offer greater protection to the children.

Mexico Facts on Prostitution

The Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation, Donna M. Hughes, Laura Joy Sporcic, Nadine Z. Mendelsohn, Vanessa Chirgwin, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, 1999

[accessed 20 June 2011]

The United Nations now lists Mexico as the number one center for the supply of young children to North America. Most are sold to rich, childless couples unwilling to wait for bona fide adoption agencies to provide them with a child. The majority are sent to international pedophile organizations. Many times the children are snatched while on errands for their parents. Often they are drugged and raped. Most of the children over 12 end up as prostitutes.

Fact Sheet: Commercial Sexual Exploitation [PDF]

United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, 22 July 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 14 June 2011]

FACTS AND FIGURES - An estimated 2 million children, the majority of them girls, are sexually exploited in the multi-billion dollar commercial sex industry. An estimated 16,000 children in Mexico are exploited in prostitution, with tourist destinations being among those areas with the highest number.

Women and Children -- Labor Base of Mexican, North American Economy

Dan La Botz, Mexican Labor News and Analysis, March 2nd, 1999

[accessed 20 June 2011]

Prostitution and Child Prostitution - The most degrading and often dangerous work of women and children can be found in prostitution. Tens of thousands of Mexican women and girls (as well as men and boys) work as prostitutes in all of the major cities of the country. A recent study by the Mexico City government Youth Commission headed by Angeles Correa found that Mexico City had 50,000 prostitutes of whom 2,500 were minors. Elena Azaola of the Center of Higher Research and Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS) found that there were 5,000 child prostitutes in all of Mexico (90 percent female). But Rosa Marta Cortina de Brown of the Female Association of Tourist Enterprise Executive estimates that 250,000 children between 10 and 16 have been the victims of "sexual tourism" in cities like Guadalajara, Cancun, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Tijuana. Recently there have also been reports on child prostitution in Veracruz, Queretaro, and Ciudad Juarez. Girls in prostitution face constant problems of possible pregnancy, immature childbirth, violence, alcohol and drug addiction, sexual transmitted diseases including HIV-AIDS.

Malevolent Bargains: Slavery Continues in the Form of Forced Prostitution

Ed Vitagliano, News Editor, American Family Association AFA Journal, April 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 15 September 2011]

AMERICAN TASTE FOR TRAFFICKED GIRLS - Virtual sex is not the only decadent delicacy for some Americans; the simple fact is that thousands of trafficked women and girls are ferried into the U.S. for the purpose of illicit sexual encounters.

In an article for The Weekly Standard, Hughes wrote about the extent of the sex trafficking industry that shuttles girls through Mexico to brothels outside San Diego, California. "Over a 10-year period, hundreds of girls, 12 to 18 years old," were brought into the U.S. by Mexican nationals.  "The girls were sold to farm workers -- between 100 and 300 at a time -- in small 'caves' made of reeds in the fields. Many of the girls had babies, who were used as hostages with death threats against them, so their mothers would not try to escape," Hughes said.

Mexican Minors Prostituted To Farmworkers Near San Diego

La Frontera News, Tijuana, 2004-12-13

[accessed 15 September 2011]

Told that they were going to work in US factories or restaurants, these women and others like them from poor Mexican communities were smuggled into the US only to be forced into prostitution, says Venustiano, a farmworker that has befriended some of the women.  He says that the women do not protest how they are treated because they fear deportation or retaliation against their families.  Most of the ten women at the farm in Del Mar are minors although the women vary in age from 14 to 22.

Lawmakers Want Registry For Tourists

Tim Weiner, The New York Times, February 12, 2004

[accessed 20 June 2011]

Members of Congress are calling for a registry of foreign tourists as a way of combating a perceived growth in the sexual abuse of children in Mexico. ''We need to diagnose the problem,'' said one congressman, Arturo Nahle García. The problems of ''sex tourism'' -- foreigners seeking sex with youths -- and sex trafficking in Mexico are thought to be on the increase, although few reliable statistics prove it. The federal authorities say 33 foreigners face trial in Mexico on charges of sexually abusing children.

Bringing street kids to the light; New center in Mexico will reach homeless girls

Kenneth D. MacHarg, Latin America Mission LAM News Service, Morelia Mexico

[accessed 20 June 2011]

In addition, they have very little self-esteem. "A lot of kids don't believe that you can love them just for who they are and they can't love themselves.  They don't see themselves as worthy of having something good happen in their lives," Sue observes.

"The addiction that is hardest for the kids is mistaking sex for love," she observes. "They're involved in prostitution. They go through a feeling of being unloved and uncared for.  Many have such a low self-esteem that they eventually go back to prostitution because it is the only place they feel valued."

Ashoka Fellow Profile - Claudia Colimoro Sarellano

Ashoka, 1998

[accessed 20 June 2011]

[accessed 13 November 2016]

Claudia, concerned about the rise in child prostitution in Mexico, and conscious that the principal victims are children of the streets, has created the Casa de las Mercedes, a home for young women with no place to turn.  79% of the women in Casa de las Mercedes began working as prostitutes between the ages of 12 and 18, and a few even earlier. Since the appearance of AIDS, many clients of prostitutes have tried to avoid the risk of this and other sexually transmitted diseases by seeking sexual relations with younger women or girls who have little or no sexual experience. Because of this, the demand for child prostitution has risen, and it is not difficult to find prostitutes due to the miserable conditions in which many children live.




Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2020]

CHILDREN - Trafficking in children for the purpose of sexual exploitation was a problem.

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS - Although there were no reliable statistics on the extent of trafficking, the government estimated that 20 thousand children were sexually exploited each year. Sexual tourism and sexual exploitation of minors were significant problems in the northern border area and in resort areas. Undocumented migrants from Central America and the poor were most at risk for trafficking.

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