Thousands of Girls and Women are Fleeing Rape, Sexual Violence and Torture in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala

These talking points have been developed by CGRS in collaboration with other national organizations leading the charge to protect unaccompanied children.

A Growing Number of Unaccompanied Children Arriving in the U.S. Are Young Girls

In Honduras, Femicide -- the Systematic Killing of Girls and Women with Impunity – Is Widespread.

  • In July 2014 the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women noted that violent deaths of women in Honduras had increased 263.4 percent between 2005 and 2013.  The Special Rapporteur noted scores of concerns regarding the high levels of domestic violence, femicide, and sexual violence. 
  • In Honduras there is a 95 percent impunity rate for sexual violence and femicide crimes.  As noted by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, “the lack of accountability for violations of human rights of women, is the norm rather than the exception.”   
  • An 11-year-old girl in Nueva Suyupa, Honduras resisted being robbed by two men.  They dragged her off, cut a hole in her throat, stuffed her panties in it, and left her body in a ravine.
  • Three girls, including an 8-year-old, were recently raped and killed in Nueva Suyapa, Honduras. Two 15-year-olds were abducted and raped. The kidnappers told them that if they didn’t get in the car, they would kill their entire families.  

Girls Are Fleeing Sexual Violence at the Hands of Gangs in Honduras and El Salvador.

  • Ms. L was raped by more than a dozen gang members in Honduras.  After reporting the gang rape to the police, her family began to receive death threats. There are only three shelters in Honduras for rape survivors, but two of them operate as brothels.  The one remaining shelter declined to take Ms. L in because the shelter could not protect her or any of the other shelter residents from gang violence.  Ms. L had no choice but to flee Honduras. 
  • Carlita, a 13-year-old, fled gang violence in El Salvador. She was kidnapped by the Zetas in Mexico, used for sex, and forced to be a drug mule for them, before escaping and ultimately making it to the U.S.
  • Ms. H survived multiple rapes in Honduras.  After she fled, she was kidnapped by a Mexican gang that raped and tortured her.  She eventually got to the U.S.
  • Ms. N and Ms. O, at ages 15 and 8, fled El Salvador.  Their older female cousins had been forced to work as sex slaves for gang leaders.  The gang threatened to kill Ms. N and her family.  Ms. N and Ms. O fled to the U.S. and were placed in removal proceedings.
  • Ms. E fled El Salvador when she was 8 years old.  Gang members had kidnapped her two older sisters.  The girls’ mother did not want her 8-year-old daughter to suffer the same fate, so she arranged for her daughter to be brought to the U.S.

Many Gangs Use Sexual Violence as Part of the “price” or “rent” Demanded of Girls. 

  • Ms. X fled an area of El Salvador controlled by gangs.  Her brother was killed for refusing to join a gang that tried to forcibly recruit him.  She was raped by two men and became pregnant as a result.  She was then required to pay renta to the rapists, which increased over time.  She fled El Salvador and was attacked by Mexican robbers during the journey, before arriving to the U.S.
  • Ms. A fled an area of El Salvador controlled by MS-13. Between the ages of 13 and 15, she witnessed two murders, several shootings, and helped identify the dismembered body of her best friend.  She had male friends who were murdered for not joining gangs.  She had girl friends who were raped and murdered for not submitting to gang members' demands.  Ms. A was forced to pay renta to MS-13. After her friend was shot and killed, a gang member threatened to kill her and harm her mother if she didn’t pay higher renta.  She fled to the U.S. and applied for her asylum.  Her application is pending.

Many Girls Are Victims of Forced Prostitution and Human Trafficking.

  • Ms. J was kidnapped by a gang in Honduras that attempted to traffic her into prostitution.  She escaped and reported the kidnapping to the police.  The gang then abducted her again, raped her, and burned her with cigarettes.  She fled to the U.S. and is seeking asylum.
  • Ms. B fled Guatemala to Mexico, after suffering years of child abuse.  She was then forced into prostitution.  She escaped and boarded a train headed north where she met a man who offered to help her get in the U.S.  After being sexually abused by this man, Ms. B escaped and entered the U.S.  She applied for asylum, was placed into removal proceedings, and an immigration judge eventually granted her asylum.
  • Ms. R was kidnapped by a group of men who sexually abused her and forced her into prostitution for two years.  She eventually escaped and fled to the U.S.  Once here, a social worker trained in child welfare and trafficking protection, identified her as a trafficking survivor.

Many Central American Girls Are Sexually Assaulted During the Treacherous Journey Northward.

  • Rape is so prevalent that many girls get birth-control injections before they leave their home in Central America, as a precaution against pregnancy.


The cases compiled are real-life cases documented by the organizations listed below:

Joanne Lin, American Civil Liberties Union (; 202/675-2317)

Shaina Aber, Jesuit Refugee Service (

Megan McKenna, Kids in Need of Defense (

Lisa Frydman, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (

Stephanie Richard, Coalition to End Slavery and Trafficking (

Mary Meg McCarthy, National Immigrant Justice Center (