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Home Topics in Depth Foreign Affairs The priest helping women get birth control at US border: 'Lesser of two evils'

  • Judi Lynn (5773 posts)
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    The priest helping women get birth control at US border: 'Lesser of two evils'

    The priest helping women get birth control at US border: ‘Lesser of two evils’

    For undocumented women making the perilous journey to the US, sexual violence is one among many threats. As a nun explains: ‘Women are a commodity’

    Alice Whitwham
    Friday 17 March 2017 06.00 EDT

     

     
    “Unfortunately, the woman who is going to migrate, she knows that she will be violated,” Father Prisciliano Pereza told me. We were standing in a sun-beaten central plaza outside Our Lady of Guadalupe church, in Altar, a languid town in Sonora, Mexico.

    Wearing a corduroy jacket, a cowboy hat and a broad smile, Father Prisciliano – or “Prisci”, as he is locally known – is uncharacteristic of Mexican Catholic priests. He adapts Catholic teaching to minister to migrating women during their perilous journeys across the Sonoran desert into the US. Especially shocking to some, he helps them to acquire preventive birth control, because of the risk of sexual assault.

    “There are groups that are networks,” he told me, when I asked him who he thought was responsible for the sexual violence. “It’s not just one guide, there are several … From their place of origin until their destination, there are going to be five to eight people guiding the migrants. It makes women more vulnerable.”

    He was referring to the guías – local people who are familiar with the routes in different towns and cities – who accompany women on their journeys north. They are organized by coyotes, businessmen who determine the cost of making these connections. The tensions Prisci navigates are political as well as spiritual; he serves the guías who grew up in his church, as well as the women who fear them.

     

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