Mexico: Meeting the needs of women survivors of violence seeking asylum


“Once people cross the border into Mexico, violence does not end.” - Marcela Orozco, Project Coordinator at IMUMI

Group of women in a room, some standing up wearing red shirts, the others sitting on chairs
Workshop on asylum-seeking process in Oaxaca, Mexico. Credit: Courtesy of IMUMI.

Women survivors of violence who flee their homes to escape persecution or harassment do not always find safety at their new destination.  

In Mexico, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) is supporting a project led by Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración (IMUMI - Institute for Women in Migration) that aims to improve access to specialist support services for women migrants from the Latin America and the Caribbean region. IMUMI is also collecting data to inform policy recommendations that will better serve the needs of women and girl asylum seekers. 

On average, before they fled their home countries, around three-quarters of the women receiving IMUMI support had been subjected to some form of violence (physical, psychological, economic, patrimonial and sexual) perpetrated by their partner, former partner or relatives, or by gangs, police or other authorities. Unfortunately, many of the women who reach Mexico continue to face institutional violence and aggression. Marcela Orozco, Project Coordinator at IMUMI said: 

“Once people cross the border into Mexico, violence does not end; it transforms and flares up, generating extremely complex environments.”  

Further, long periods waiting to obtain refugee status from the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance leaves many women asylum seekers without access to public services, including healthcare, education, housing and decent employment. As a result, IMUMI’s legal clinic has designed and implemented a multi-pronged model of care tailored to meet the individual and multi-faceted needs of women survivors of violence, including legal aid and mental healthcare.  


To address the types of violence often faced by women on the move, IMUMI is collaborating with other civil society organizations and academic institutions in Mexico to develop and implement strategies that can coordinate referrals and update information to inform tailored assistance for each woman.  

IMUMI is also working with local feminist organizations in policy advocacy by providing evidence and proposals for policy reforms that reflect the voices and needs of migrant women and asylum seekers. Marcela Orozco said it is important to “understand the cultural aspects of each region, and, therefore, of its population”. She continued: 

“It is crucial to reinforce the sensitization of public servants particularly when it comes to humanitarian attention to vulnerable populations, such as migrant women victims of violence.” 

Mila Ioncheva, Programme Specialist at the UN Trust Fund, explains:  

"IMUMI plays an important role in providing essential legal support to migrant women in Mexico. In times of crises, it is especially crucial to respond to the needs of women survivors on the move to prevent further violence."