A few years ago, I watched the movie “Inhale”, and I was intensely surprised by how these things could happen in real life. I mean, children that are kidnapped to be sold? In whose mind is that possible?. Then I started to watch some of the Mexican TV shows about drug dealers. I saw total disregard for human life where children and adults are sold like commodities. That is worrying.
Recently, I saw on Facebook the terrible story of Maria Jose Monroy Enciso, a baby girl that was kidnapped in 2010 while her mom had her throat slit. The kidnapper was caught, and he admitted the crime. However, he said he killed the baby and put her body into a river yet police never found the body. Her mom is desperately looking for her daughter, who she believes is still alive. The attacker refuses to speak with the mother or say anything else about the baby. I am sure there are many cases like this around the world, but how many in Mexico?.
According to official reports (RNPED, 2018), there are 6,614 missing children in Mexico, see the following figure.
56% of the missing children are between 15-17 years old of which 59% are girls. It is noteworthy that 34% of the missing children were registered between 1974 and 2013. That means that in just 5 years, from 2014 to 2018 (2018 data is to October), 66% of the total of missing children have been registered. See the following figure.
It is tragic to register a rise in the numbers of missing children every year (from 2014). In 2016 this increase was 58%. The number of missing children between 0-4 years old grew by 104%. That is just unacceptable. See the following figure.
These official statistics are not including the missing children that are not reported to the police. They are living on the street, with no family or whose families don’t report their disappearance due to fear or threats. So, we can expect that the “real” number is much greater.
According to the last report of REDIM (2018) The disappearance of girls, boys and adolescents in Mexico may be associated with crimes such as human trafficking, violence, sexual exploitation, recruitment of armed groups and organized crime. This institution says that people under 18 years old have 30% more chance of disappearing or falling victim to homicide than those over 18 years old.
I found these two cases in an online news article and wanted to add on this information:
- Marta Flores, 5 years old: On March 15th 2008, Marta was with her mom in Mexico City, they were going to take the bus when a man approached them and took the girl. He fled the scene leaving her mom confused, she reacted and ran after him (even taking off her shoes), but she couldn’t reach them.
- August 21st: I couldn’t find any updates on this case.
- Silvia Stephanie Sanchez Viesca, 16 years old: Nov 5th 2004 Silvia was kidnapped after school on her way home. 6 months before, she was followed by a car that was taking pictures of her. In 2012, the authorities discovered that Silvia was sold to a gangster who made her his wife and now she is the mother of his son.
Some of the explanations for the disappearing of children in Mexico are (Vega, 2018):
- Public servants’ help
- Sold to the sex industry
- Recruited by organized crime groups
- Babies are stolen to be sold or illegally adopted
- Civil War displacement (wrong place, wrong time)
How is the situation in the rest of the world?
It is worrying. I read many reports and news that complain about the lack of suitable and precise information regarding this subject. In Latin America, for example, public institutions don’t have updated statistics, and some news claimed the numbers are much more significant. Here are some horrifying numbers that I found:
Our society shouldn’t allow these things to happen. Our governments should feel the responsibility to investigate every single case and bring each child home.
- BBC- Rodriguez, M. (2019) Ninos Desaparecidos Buscan Ser Contados. Available from: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/america_latina/2009/05/090515_1410_ninios_desaparecidos_latinos_mr[Accessed 21st Aug 2019]
- BBC- Rodriguez, M. (2009) “Ando desesperada por las calles”. Available from: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/america_latina/2009/05/090515_desaparecidos_martita_flores[Accessed 21st Aug 2019]
- International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (n.d.) One Missing Child Is One Too Many. Available from: https://www.icmec.org/missing-children-statistics/[Accessed 18thAug 2019]
- Registro Nacional de Datos de Personas Extraviadas o desaparecidas -RNPED (2018). October 21st. Available from: https://datos.gob.mx/busca/dataset/registro-nacional-de-datos-de-personas-extraviadas-o-desaparecidas-rnped[Accessed 19thAug 2019]
- The Guardian (n.d.) More than 6,600 children have gone missing in Mexico. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/05/mexico-missing-children-data-latest[Accessed 19th Aug 2019]
- Red por los Derechos de la Infancia en Mexico – REDIM (2018). Balance Annual 2018. Available from: http://derechosinfancia.org.mx/documentos/Balance_Anual_2018_2.pdf[Accessed 19th Aug 2019]
- Vega, A. (2018) Por que desaparecen los ninos?. Available from: https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/columna/ana-francisca-vega/nacion/por-que-desaparecen-los-ninos[Accessed 21st Aug 2019]