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A place of safety

Issues Affecting Women Programme / Partner story

Photo: © Louise O’Gorman

About 50 km from the Guatemalan border in Chiapas in the city of Comitán, Mexico, the Casita Morada is a small house that serves as an information and help centre for migrant women arriving from the Northern Triangle.

The Casita is the only centre of its kind in southeastern Mexico. It is a result of years of work by a network comprised of around 35 member organisations from Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, who collectively work for women’s rights and to reduce the violence experienced by women on the migratory route.

Formación y Capacitación (FOCA) coordinates this network.

Diana Damián Palencia, executive director of FOCA, explained how, over the years, it became clear that a physical place to give information, specifically for women, was needed.

“Women are particularly vulnerable on the migratory route, yet less protected,” she said. “Often they are afraid to approach the authorities.” In both rural and urban areas, women face discrimination. FOCA also organises workshops which focus on the concepts of solidarity and support and attempt to forge common bonds among the women.

“I believe that as long as even one woman benefits, the work is worthwhile,” says Diana.

“This is a humanitarian crisis, and women and children are bearing the worst of it. Abuse of all kinds towards women is off the scale,” says Medina Haeri Programme Officer with Oak’s Issues Affecting Women Programme.

“I am encouraged by how women in Chiapas are building themselves up from their inner selves. The women I have worked with share a strong capacity to overcome difficulties and not to give up.

– Diana Damián Palencia, executive director of FOCA

Sometimes the women who come to Casita report abduction cases or seek help finding family members. Other times they are fleeing violence or need psychosocial assistance. The Casita has a full-time lawyer that provides legal advice. In addition, it offers a referral service to other civil society organisations which support victims.

This work falls under the Trafficking and Exploitation section of our Issues Affecting Women’s Programme strategy, which you can read more about here.

Read more about our support to organisations working to protect women in South America here: Annual Report 2017, pages 40 – 45.

Source: Oak Foundation Annual Report 2017