WATCH | For two decades, Rosi Orozco has fought drug cartels, government officials and foreign businessmen who she says have targeted young women and children for sex trafficking and slavery. Now she's preparing to take on the U.S. State Department and some Mexican lawmakers.
On a mission to stop the abuse
Orozco came to the United States from Mexico in 2005 to be trained by the U.S. Justice Department on how to help fight human trafficking. She said hearing the testimony of a young girl who had been raped more than 30 times a day for years is what changed the direction of her life.
That young girl later killed herself.
I was not going to be able to sleep with peace in my heart knowing that in my country there was thousands of people in slavery and thousands of little girls crying for help.
Plans to water down Mexico's sex trafficking laws?
Orozco is still fighting for sex abuse victims today. As president of the non-governmental Commission United Against Human Trafficking in Mexico, she's now taking on government officials on both sides of the border who she says are secretly colluding to gut Mexico’s current human trafficking law.
Orozco fought to pass the law in 2012 when she served in Mexico's legislature.
Changes to sex trafficking law?
Orozco claims that U.S. Embassy officials in Mexico City have been meeting with members of Mexico's legislature over the past several months. She accuses some of the people taking part in those meetings of attempting to change the federal sex trafficking law that unanimously passed the Mexican Senate in 2012.
Circa has not independently confirmed these meetings took place nor what was discussed.
Mexican law on trafficking and slavery
The law requires individual Mexican states to follow federal measures in punishing perpetrators of human trafficking and slavery.
It also grants increased powers to law enforcement and judges, as well as complete anonymity and protection for victims, while providing those rescued the funding to build a new life.
U.S. Embassy officials in Mexico did not return calls for comment. But the State Department told Circa in a statement that Mexico's law is "not in full compliance" with current U.S. standards.
Rita Hernandez, executive director of Orozco's nonprofit, told Circa: “The United States may have an opinion, but it cannot use this opinion to pressure or encourage changes in national legislation” because it's in violation of Mexico’s constitution.
She said the legislation is an "internal affair that needs to take into account the specifics of the Mexican judicial system, the cultural paradigms and the past legislative experiences -- not the opinions of a foreign government. It is a matter of respecting national sovereignty.”
It's unclear if the U.S. government is working to change the sex trafficking law in Mexico, as Orozco alleges. But she adds that the law she helped pass in 2012 has been successful at putting sex traffickers behind bars.
Orozco said she spoke with State Department officials in Mexico, including Ambassador-at-Large Susan Coppedge, who works to monitor and combat trafficking.
She confronted Coppedge and other embassy officials several weeks ago in Mexico City and they were dismissive of her complaints, she said.
Zunduri, who escaped in 2015, was held for five years at a laundromat near Mexico City, where she was sexually assaulted and tortured repeatedly. The last eight months of her captivity she was chained to a wall, burned and cut.
A State Department official later said Coppedge was not available for comment but did say, “Ambassador Coppedge traveled to Mexico City to participate in the meetings among the governments of Mexico, Canada, and the United States, as well as civil society organizations.”
WATCH | An estimated 378,000 people are living as modern slaves in Mexico, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index.
Orozco says her victims range from girls as young as 6 sold into sexual slavery and others forced into servitude in factories and farm fields. She says they have all expressed fear the law will be overturned and their perpetrators will be set free.
America is “based on principles and values This country was and has been always known by ending slavery. Why don't you and us, we end it together?”
"Where are the Abraham Lincolns of this century? Where are the people that really value another human being?” said Orozco.
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