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Mexico tending towards prostitution abolition ?

Could Mexico adopt an abolitionist legislation inspired by the la loi française d’avril 2016  ? In this country which is very much affected by prostitution and human trafficking, abolitionists gather their powers while the debate intensifies ; several recent attempts at liberalizing the sex market have failed, which favours high hopes in this direction. All the higher than Rosi Orozco, a former congresswoman and chair of the Comision Unidos Vs Trata, has met, during a stay in Europe, her French partners, the Fondation Scelles in particular, and communicated with them on the French model.

 logo Comision Unidos Versus Trata


In December 2016, two bills were proposed to the Mexican representatives’ votes. They were :


1) A reform of the law about human trafficking (80 out of the 125 articles of the law being questioned) presented by the Senate. For most of the associations fighting against the trade, the adoption of such a law might be a backward signal and have serious consequences on the victims’ fates : make the victims’ identification more difficult, favour offenders’ impunity, allow for human rights’ exploitation. The text, in particular, considered modifying the nature of the trade offence and making the constraint or any other form of violence constitutive elements. In other words : with this reform, a trade victim had to prove the use of threat, constraint…to be able to lodge his or her complaint ; in the absence of what, the trafficker was not accused and the victim received no protection. Besides, one of the first concrete consequences of this reform would have been to set free tens of traffickers who had already been incarcerated, due to insufficient evidence.


2) A draft constitution for Mexico City providing, in an article 15 indent, the recognition of prostitution as « an autonomous and voluntary job » and « a legal activity ». Still worse, beyond even a regulationist conception of prostitution, this measure intended to make « sex work » an economic pattern, a new auto-enterpreneurial mode of work addressing a society in crisis.


Several key figures, particularly members of parliament,have expressed their opinion against this plan : prostitution is not a job, it is an exploitation and a violation of human rights. It was also recalled that such a bill constituted an open violation of the international treaties recognized in the article 1 of the Constitución Politica de Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos.


In the end, these proposals have not been adopted. On December 15th, the members of parliament, sitting in plenary assembly, decided to withdraw the bill on the trade without arguing. A few days before, the article 15 of the Constitution which considered defining prostitution as a « job » was dismissed by the Comision de Carta de Derechos de la Asemblea Constituyente : no constitution has ever admitted prostitution as a job, not even in countries where prostitution is legal.


In this country which is torn between prohibition and regulationism (depending on the States and regions), these decisions have a symbolical reach. The Senate’s  bill having been dismissed, the Mexican Parliament is going to work at a bill in favour of victims in January 2017. It is a new step towards abolitionism.


French abolitionism as a model

Mexico could then be inspired by the French example. La loi adoptée par la France en avril 2016, was favourably echoed in the country. It sounds like a « French sexual revolution » Rosi Orozco then commented. She is the chairwoman of the NGO Comision Unidos Vs Trata (R. Orozco « La revolucion sexual francesca., April 22nd 2016). Inspired by the Scandinavian model, the new law has actually revolutionized the perception of prostitution in France by prohibiting the purchase of a sexual act and reinforcing prostitutes’ protection.


>> Read more

La loi prostitution en France – 13 avril 2016


Rosi Orozco à la Fondation Scelles avec Yves CharpenelRosi Orozco is a major figure for Mexican abolitionism ; she actively fights in favour of the adoption of such a law. She initiated the international forum on « sexual exploitation, a violation of human rights », which was organized in Mexico City in October 2016. Parliamentaries, abolitionist organizations and experts from all over the world met at this event . The aim was to spread the abolitionist message throughout the Latin-American continent highlighting the paramount role of the demand. Yves Charpenel, the Fondation Scelles’ President, was present so as to promote the French new abolitionism.




>> Read more

La Fondation Scelles au Mexique pour promouvoir la pénalisation de la demande de prostitution

La loi française sur la prostitution : un nouveau modèle de lutte contre le système prostitutionnel


Last fall, Rosi Orozco took advantage of her passing through France to learn more precisely about the new French law. She visited the Fondation Scelles, an ONG which is a partner of the Comision Unidos Vs Trata and asked Yves Charpenel questions in relation with this issue : which adoption process for the law was chosen ? which were the difficulties ? how did the abolitionist organizations back the law ?... 


In Rosi Orozco’s opinion, the law « cannot work unless all the links of the crime chain, including the client, are punished ». But how can it be reached without risking unconstitutionality ? Does taking legal action against a client amount to undermining  his liberty or the free trade ? It is the most often met main theorical obstacle. This issue has already been raised in Mexico by the opponents of a first abolitionist bill which was rejected for unconstitutionality. In the face of this question, France answers that the client’s legitimate penalization also results from the fact that the purchase of sexual services fuels prostitution which damages human dignity, a constitutional principle.


Acting together for abolition

Rosi Orozco is also convinced that all the forms of trade and sexual exploitation will change or disappear only through reinforcing cooperation, particularly international cooperation. By the way, the French law has been promoted by a group of feminist associations called Abolition 2012, cofounded by the Mouvement du Nid, The Amicale du Nid and The Scelles Foundation. Along the same line, a collective movement, the Coalicion para la  Abolicion del Sistema prostituyente, was created in Mexico to promote the abolitionist project.


An abolitionist front is developing. The French model should continue to inspire the Mexican abolitionist movement in terms of action modes as well as advocacy. The Fondation Scelles will keep observing the Mexican situation and supporting this new soar.



Mexico- Current situation

  • One of the most advanced Latin- American countries in terms of fight against human trade.
  • 40% of the Mexican people live in poverty, which worsens women’s difficulties to improve their living conditions and to fight this oppressive system. Women enter the sex industry under violence and constraint, or urged by economic needs.
  • Almost 70% amongst the girls who prostitute themselves are under 18. According to the authorities, there are about 25.000 prostituted children (but the actual figures are much higher : some evaluations mention around 70.000 prostituted minors).
  • Human trafficking generates over 20 billion euros per year in Mexico.

>> Read also : Current situation of prostitution in Mexico - figures, legislation, developments, stakes, In the Fondation Scelles’ 2016 Global Report on prostitutions




Neli Dlgado, a « prostitution supersurvivor »

Neli Delgado is a member of the Comicion Unidos Vs Trata ; she is a prostitution supersurvivor to put it as Rosi Orozco did. Her father’s death, an unfortunate meeting, a boy-friend who seduces her then forces her to sell her body in Mexico streets..Neli Delgado, 19 years old, falls into prostitution : 30 clients a day and months of hell of a life. She was rescued during a police raid and entrusted to the Fondation Camino a Casa who hosts victims of human trafficking ; Papa German, who is in charge of a rehabilitation program for trade survivors and Rosi Orozco acted as her foster parents. « They helped me to reconstruct my dreams and make them real ». To date Neli is a graduate of LaSalle University and works at the creation of her catering business. In parallel, she is still involved in the combat against human trafficking with Rosi Orozco and,as a « prostitution supersurvivor » testifies to the violence she suffered in  sexual exploitation.



>> To go further

Current situation of prostitution in Mexico since 2010, in :

-       Exploitation sexuelle – Prostitution et crime organisé, Paris, Ed. Economica, 2012 ;

-       Exploitation sexuelle. Une menace qui s’étend, Paris, Ed. Economica, 2014,

-       Prostitution. Exploitations, Persécutions, Répressions, Paris, Ed. Economica, 2016.




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The Scelles Foundation in the press

  • (ES - Milenio) El ser humano no está a la venta
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