Concerned Women for America (CWA) says its Bridge Project has reached 7,000 people across Mexico in an effort that sponsored 17 training sessions to train Mexican nationals for leadership in the fight against sex trafficking. Also thanks to the project, hundreds of individuals are now capable of lobbying for changes in Mexican law to crack down on human traffickers.
CWA's Beverly LaHaye Institute launched "The Bridge Project" through a grant from the U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking. Sixteen Mexican leaders, including members of a Mexican pro-family coalition called "Red Familia," came to Washington, DC, for a weeklong training session in 2005 after the government grant funded the start of the project.
Five of those leaders, all from Red Familia, were chosen to initiate projects in Mexico through their organizations. The delegates returned to their country to begin building a support structure and to further the training.
The Institute's senior fellow Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse serves as director of the Bridge Project. She calls the effort "one of the most satisfying and successful projects that I have ever been involved with" and says it has laid the groundwork for "the beginning of the end of trafficking in persons in Mexico."
Thanks to the Bridge Project, Crouse says the worldwide criminal networks that use Mexico as a route to bring the victims of human trafficking into the U.S. "will find that their way is blocked" and will be much more difficult in the future. That is because of the "wonderful, dedicated people who worked so tirelessly" on this effort, she asserts — people that she compares to "modern-day abolitionists" and who are continuing to advance in their efforts to stamp out this crime.
"We have been able to work with one of the groups in setting up a shelter," the project's director points out. The Mexican participants "have the [shelter] blueprints already" she says; and "they have a manual ready to go," she adds, referring to a manual produced for shelter workers as a guide in the rescue of sex trafficking victims.
Meanwhile, Crouse notes, more than 600 people have now been trained as advocates and are lobbying for stronger Mexican laws to prosecute criminals involved in human trafficking. "Another group has done a database of where people are being trafficked and who's doing the trafficking," she says.
Also, the Bridge Project workers have produced a 56-page analysis of the legal aspects of this crime in Mexico's federal Penal Code and have collected 1,318 articles and 17 books on the subject of human trafficking, Crouse observes. She says the Mexican team has also produced 80 policy recommendations and launched a human trafficking awareness campaign for tourist industry personnel.