In response to the epidemic of kidnapped girls, an online movement has emerged in Mexico, comprised of bereaved parents who are fed up with government inaction. In an expose released on Sept. 14, BBC News explores the tragically high number of Mexican girls kidnapped by human traffickers, and the parents who are raising awareness online.
The statistics are shocking: In 2011 and 2012, 1,238 women were reported missing in Mexico State alone, 53 percent under the age of 17. Mexico State is in south-central Mexico and has been a hotbed for female abductions, perpetrated by human traffickers and petty criminals seeking to extort families.
Many of the kidnapped women meet grisly fates, 2,228 turning up dead in Mexico State in the past decade, according to BBC.
One infamous case was Tehuacan teenager Isarve Cano Vargas, who in May 2015 was abducted by three men who demanded $130,000 for her safe return. Her family paid the ransom, but the abductors had already murdered Vargas and dumped her body in the city of Coxcatlan, reports Daily Mail.
Another infamous incident occurred in August 2013, when Mexican authorities discovered a mass grave filled with five missing teenage girls 30 miles outside of Mexico City, according to Time.
According to BBC, parents whose daughters have been stolen are no longer leaving their fates to officials. Two of the most prominent activists are Elizabeth and Alejandro, whose daughter Karen — her name changed to protect her identity — was kidnapped in April 2013, when was 14.
Elizabeth and Alejandro identified their daughter’s kidnapper after combing through her social media and started an online movement to have her found. Karen’s kidnapper was spooked by the publicity and dropped the girl off at a bus terminal.
Karen, who was lured by the promise of a music career in New York by her kidnapper, was initially angry with her parents. To educate their daughter on the danger she was in, they took her to an awareness conference, where Elizabeth says her daughter went in “as one girl and came back another.”
Elizabeth and Alejandro now work to help other parents find their daughters through social media, BBC reports. The online public outcry has pressured Mexico State governor Eruviel Avila Villegas to issue a “gender alert,” requiring police to investigate violence towards women and work on solutions.
BBC reports Elizabeth and Alejandro have so far helped 21 families reunite with their children.