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2017 (Narrative date)

There are an estimated 341,000 people living in modern slavery in Mexico (GSI 2018). Sex trafficking remains prevalent in the country, with the city of Tenancingo, Tlaxcala being dubbed the sex trafficking capital of the world. Women and young girls are often manipulated into 'love relationships' with local men who earn their trust and then trap them into forced prostitution. NGOs have revealed that the commercial sexual exploitation of Mexican girls occurs on a daily basis.

Frances was born in Jalisco, Mexico. She was from a poor family and had little to eat as a child. Her sister died of starvation when they were children. When Frances was 14, she left home to go to Guadalajara and obtained a job as a maid, sending what little earnings she made home. When she was 16, an older woman approached Frances and offered her a job as a waitress at La Perla restaurant on the boarder of Texas in a town called Villa Acuña. However, upon arrival Frances found there was no restaurant. The Pearl was a house in the middle of nowhere. It was a brothel. Frances was forced to provide sexual services to US servicemen. Frances was finally able to escape when she fell in love with one of the customers, William. William took Frances to New York in 1952, where they married and started a family.

The men are handsome there.

We ate seeds and tortillas, with some chile, and it tasted good because we were hungry.


You gotta do what you gotta do. I was the breadwinner in my family.

They gave us our room and told us to dress very pretty and go out to the salon because it was full of American soldiers.

[Once a month] the doctors would come and give us checkups.


You know. This is a great shame in my life. I want you to understand, I was desperate.

It’s an ugly thing. You have relations with a man you don’t want. You just close your eyes and you let it happen. It’s false. You…do it out of necessity, not desire. You know nothing about love. You know nothing of kissing with passion.

[Why are you telling me this secret?]

I don’t know. I don’t know why. I think there was something here. Something inside me.


I got to marry an American […] he was so elegant. He was wearing a blue shirt and a tie. He was almost 6 feet tall.

And he fell in love with me. And then he said – I want you to get out of here.

I fell in love with him. I loved that man.

[She travelled with her husband to New York]

We took a taxi, to the house. To my mother-in-law’s house. I was afraid I would freeze.


Narrative provided by Public Radio International