At least 400 women and children have been treated this year by Doctors Without Borders after they were raped in tents set up specifically to abuse migrants in the notorious Darien Gap, a bombshell new report has revealed.
In October alone, 107 rape survivors, including 59 people in a single week, were treated by the organization.
The youngest victims were 11, 12, and 16.
‘A 100-kilometer stretch of wilderness known as one of the most dangerous migrant crossings in the world – people report being subjected to kidnappings and rape in tents set up for that purpose,’ Doctors Without Border said last week.
An estimated 460,000 migrants have crossed the Darien Gap so far this year in hopes of making it to the US.
Earlier this month, a caravan made of 7,000 migrants made its way through the treacherous pathway.
Armed groups of men demand money from migrants – most of whom have already spent their lives’ savings just to make the trip north – just for being allowed through the Darien Gap.
Those who can’t pay are subjected to abuse ranging from unwanted touching to rape in front of other migrants or in tents set up to assault victims.
One rape happens every three hours, and doctors believe they don’t know the full scope of the problem, as many victims don’t come forward.
The organization is only counting the victims who seek medical attention once they exit the Darien Gap in Panama.
‘How can you survive five rapes,’ a tearful Venezuelan women, whose name was withheld, told the organization.
‘We crossed the jungle looking for a better future -not for our lives to end,’ she said. ‘A snake does not end your life. Your life is ended by the men inside the jungle who rape and kill.’
Migrants who can afford it pay ‘guides’ who help them quickly cross the dangerous jungle and avoid danger.
But those who don’t are on their own, and even paying a guide is no guarantee of protection from being kidnapped, raped or killed.
Traveling in packs offers from protection, but the armed thugs who stalk migrants in the jungle will kidnap entire groups, the Venezuelan victim explained.
‘They beat me on my legs with a bat because those of us who had no money were beaten,’ she added.
‘Those who said they didn’t have any money, but when searched were found to have some, were hurt even more. They said, ‘Oh yes, she has some money,’ and they raped them. I saw many people raped. I saw them left naked and beaten. One, two, or three of them grab you and rape you, and then the next one comes and rapes you again, and if you scream, they beat you.’
Costa Rica declared a state of emergency after more than a quarter of a million migrants crossed through the Central American nation on their way to the US-Mexico border.
Doctors Without Borders says 95% of the rape victims are female, but men are sometimes raped, too.
Men who try to stop a rape from happening can also face violence or death.
‘Some young men were also beaten and thrown onto the ground for trying to defend the women,’ said the Venezuelan woman.
‘They killed a boy in front of us with a shot to the forehead.’
‘No one should have to suffer this type of violence,’ the organization’s medical coordinator Carmenza Gálvez stated.
‘Migration is not a crime. Human mobility is a universal right.’
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