Access to Justice and Refugee Rights As a Survival Strategy of Central American Women

Friday, 20 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Susanne WILLERS, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico
For women fleeing violence in Central American countries refugee protection in Mexico has become an alternative to migration to the United States of America. Due to migration enforcement policies, traditional migration routes of escape have become too dangerous for women, especially when travelling with children. As a result, refugee applications in Mexico have been rising significantly; between 2013 and 2016 applications have been increasing over 600% (COMAR 2017). Yet, the Mexican refugee system and the particular local contexts in refugee receiving communities contribute to situations of re-victimization of migrant women and their children, unless the efforts made by UNHCR and regional NGO´s.

This paper is based on a longer field study in Tapachula, Mexico, starting in 2013 until 2017, looking at the circumstances of Central American Migration through Mexico and to the USA. The paper looks to analyse the particular situation in the aftermath of the humanitarian crisis of 2015 and the effects of following migration enforcement that led women with children choose to settle in Mexico in order to avoid deportation and look for refugee protection as a strategy for survival. This paper aims to analyse the difficulties and particular circumstances women face during this process, such as the effects of structural and gender based violence and segmented labour markets that endanger women’s and children’s livelihood in receiving communities.