This Mexican activist turned politician has fought sex trafficking in Mexico for almost 20 years. “The known as black brothels are strategic points to take over a city”, she says.
since 1990, Mexican activist Rosi Orozco has promoted and defended human rights through several associations, especially focused on the prevention and treatment of human trafficking, crime, social development and the strengthening of families.
She is a reference in the whole American continent.
Orozco has been invited to countries such as the United States, Italy, England, France, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Colombia, India, Bolivia, United Arab Emirates, and a long etcetera.
Orozco has been featured in national and international media, such as CNN, Univision, Newsweek, Herald Magazine, the Washington Post, Excélsior, Forbes, Quien, Milenio, and Telemundo,among many others. She writes for IPS News, El Heraldo, Foro Jurídico, Milenio and Cadena Política.
Question. How did this vision and concern for trafficked women and the modern mafias of sexual slavery and other types of abuse begin?
Answer. In 2005 I was invited to Washington, D.C. (US) by Concerned Women for America, to a programme called The Bridge Project, to train people in Mexico to deal with the rise of human trafficking. The Salvation Army and 22 civil society organisations attended.
We were trained for 5 days (awareness raising, prevention, law enforcement, prosecution of the crime and restoration of victims). On the first day they showed us a film called Lila for ever, and it deeply touched me.
It is the life of a little girl from Lithuania who is captured by these mafias and taken to Sweden where she becomes a prostitute. In the end she commits suicide. I cried, I cried, and I cried for the five days I was there, it was something from God that touched my soul and made me never close my eyes again.
I returned to Mexico and I realised that there was nothing here: no law, no shelters, no prosecution of crime. There was a great work to do and I could not forget the great pain I had felt for that little girl who had no hope for life.
I started by opening the first shelter for victims of human trafficking in 2007, after going into an area called La Merced, which was very dangerous. There I attended an event with the government delegate in that area and met several victims of trafficking. I offered them help right then, so that they wouldn't have to prostitute themselves. Three of them came with me, starting what was the first shelter.
One of them is on the cover of my first book From Heaven to Hell, and she started to help me with her testimony and building bridges with other victims. Her name is Camila, she had a powerful conversion and today she has her own family and a beautiful Christian life. She is very special to me.
Q. How have you put into practice and developed this battle?
A. By carrying out what I learned in the Bridge Project programme. With the shelter in 2007, we realised that without a comprehensive law, which severely punished those who recruit and buy victims, we were not going to achieve anything.
This is why, after having built the shelter and accompanied many victims before the authorities, seeing that we were not making any progress to get justice, God opened an incredible, supernatural door, which led me to be a candidate for the 2nd district of Gustavo A Madero in Mexico City.
In theory it was impossible to win, and we won with a very high margin. I campaigned by investing all my resources in a prevention program against trafficking and child abuse.
It was a wonderful experience; I had the full support of all the people of faith, and we made it to the Parliament.
There I gave my 500 colleagues a video called Human trafficking, starring Mira Sorvino, an Oscar-winning actress. The script was made by the UN and it shows very clearly what human trafficking is.
When I was in the Parliament, accompanied by many friends, pastors and ministers, I presented a draft law that my 500 colleagues and 128 senators voted unanimously in favour of. There is a document called Knowing Mexico's human trafficking law that helps to understand what we achieved.
Before leaving my position as a federal deputy after three years, it was very special for me to get the approval of a national General Law to prevent, punish and eradicate crimes related to human trafficking and to provide care and assistance to the victims of those crimes.
On 31 August 2012 I finished my work as a federal deputy, and on 1 September we created the United Against Human Trafficking Commission, because it was the way to be able to implement the whole law from civil society; helping to open shelters, carry out prevention campaigns and prosecute the crime throughout the country.
Now in 2013, the transition begins to other people to lead the commission. I see the dream of helping survivors of trafficking finishing univeristy studies and becoming empowered enough to lead this come true. I am passing the baton to a survivor named Guadalupe Carrasco. She is a journalist and will be the head of the commission. For my part, I will be moving on to an international organisation.
Q. When someone confronts these organised sex trafficking rings, there is a cruel and brutal response. Even more so in Mexico, where feminicides are a daily reality. Was that your case?
A. Yes, there is a cruel and brutal response when we confront those rings and support the victims, especially in cases involving criminal organisations that have brothels.
Threats and paid press reports saying all kinds of evils against us by lying. Something terrible that I had to face eight months after the law was passed on 14 June 2012, was an attack from a senator of the state of Tlaxcala. It is the state with the highest number of traffickers, with 35 of its 60 cities having “classes” where men teach other men to be pimps, what we call padrotes; entire families who live from the trade of human beings.
This senator was literally like Jezebel. First and foremost she tried to destroy the law in 2013, which I had to oppose publicly, which led me to confront a large part of the Senate of the Republic where this woman lied. First she took away the strength of the punitive articles of the law, she eliminated the protection and assistance for victims, the economic fund that was proposed. And all in a very cruel way, lying and accusing us of falsehoods, all to destroy the law.
In December 2016, she almost passed her proposals for getting traffickers out of jail.
I visited 17 pimps in prison for three years (before the pandemic), and I shared with them about Christ; 4 of them converted to Christ and are now activists for good. But during those visits I heard that inside the prison the lawyers were telling the prisoners that if this senator's draft law was passed, they would be able to leave jail.
When this senator's Bill was about to be passed I was returning from a trip to Israel, and the same feeling I had there visiting the sites of Jesus' miracles I had that night convinced that a miracle was going to happen. In the morning the President of the Parliament told me that the four political parties (PRI, PES, PVEM, Panal) were going to come out to the media and say that they were against the law.
The anger of that Jezebel, her hatred, was terrible against me with all kinds of reactions. But the anti-trafficking law went ahead. And today, after ten years of being in place, it has been analysed, with over a thousand resolutions that show how well it has worked.
But there have been more attacks. The most recent for supporting the victims of a case here in Mexico similar to well-known case of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. They have people with a lot of power and economic resources around them, who influence politicians who are on the side of slavery and make it very difficult to fight against such crimes.
It is important to understand what happens in black brothels , because when they grow, it encourages men's culture of considering women as objects; feminicides increase and a whole network of evil is created that must be confronted.
One of the greatest achievements we have had in Mexico took place in the state of Coahuila, when my colleague Rubén Moreira became governor and closed down all those black brothels and table dances to show that in that state human beings are not for sale.
This was followed by the states of Mexico and Tamaulipas doing the same. Tamaulipas was the third most violent state in Mexico in 2016 and today, thank God, by closing down the black brothels, it has moved to 26th place, which shows the influence of those places.
In those places they also invite policemen, politicians, public ministries, and deputies to sit with a girl on their legs; and they take pictures of them to extort them, they also introduce them to criminals and use them to launder money.
They are strategic points for the enemy to take over a city and a state. The result of their closure shows that such places should not exist, because closing them reduces feminicide and organised crime, and of course, dignifies women.
Learn more about the Kaleido, the non-profit organisation led by Rosi Orozco to combat human trafficking.
This is the first of a two parts inteview first published on Latin American news website Evangélico Digital. Part 2 will be published next week.
1. Centres operating outside the law. This is a common expression used in Mexico to identify businesses that encourage illegal behaviour.