Hard choices

Girls disappearing in El Salvador as gangs run rampant

A police officer in El Salvador standing next to a suspected gang member (NPR/Twitter)

Two summers ago there was a surge of unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the U.S. Mexico border, thousands of which were young girls from El Salvador. Why? Much of El Salvador is controlled by gangs and ravaged by violence — on average one person dies in El Salvador every hour — and these gangs are presenting El Salvadoran girls with a hard choice: hide, or give in to whatever’s asked of them. Often the only other options for these girls are escape or death. A 13-year-old El Salvadoran girl told NPR that her father, a gang member in prison, wants her mother’s family to provide him with $50,000 or he’ll have her, his own daughter, raped and killed. She sought asylum in the U.S., but was caught in Mexico and faces deportation. She plans to make the attempt again, she said. “I’m not one of those kids who waits till the last minute to make things right,” the teen said. “I don’t have to let these things happen to me.” NPR never heard from her again. She may not have had a choice.

Read the full story at NPR.

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