LAREDO, TX – On this day, allied professionals, law enforcement, and promotoras from throughout the Texas-Mexico border came together for the 'Victim Advocacy Sin Fronteras Training Institute' held in Laredo at La Posada Hotel Suites. The event was an inter-agency collaboration organized by Arte Sana, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), Texas A&M International University(TAMIU), the Association for Advancement of Mexican Americans (AAMA), and Texas A&M University Center for Housing and Urban Development (TAMU CHUD). This event was also sponsored in part by a grant from the Office of the Attorney General of Texas awarded to Arte Sana's Capacitadoras en Acción bilingual border training project.
Recognizing the need for a customized approach that respects the diversity within Latino populations, the 'Victim Advocacy Sin Fronteras Institute' is an example of a collaborative spirit that is attempting to bring attention to the special needs of victims who reside along the Texas/Mexico border. Among the topics covered during the one-day event that included a Spanish language workshop track were: sexual trafficking, the increase of sexual abuse among males, relationship issues for adult survivors, child sexual exploitation, family reintegration of offenders, promotora program models and domestic violence.
Maria del Rosario Gema Oaxaca y Jaramillo from Puebla, Mexico, delivered the morning keynote titled, "El uso del equipo reflexivo y Terapia Estratégica en parejas con violencia." Marisa Bava, Executive Director of the Bilateral Safety Corridor in San Diego and a renowned expert on human trafficking delivered the afternoon keynote titled, "Bilateral Safety Corridor: A Prevention Intervention and Education Model for Trafficked Victims."
As part of the Capacitadoras en Acción training project that was recently recognized by the Centers for Disease Control as a model for reaching underserved victims of sexual assault, Arte Sana was able to offer 53 scholarships to this event, primarily to promotoras who work in colonias such as Los Obispos, Santa Rita, Santa Fe, Rio Bravo, El Cenizo, and others. Since the project's inception in February, 2002, Arte Sana has offered bilingual training and presentations to over 824 advocates, allied professionals from the Texas-Mexico border region on sexual assault-related issues.
While the re-occurring deaths within the El Paso/Juarez areas have drawn greater media scrutiny in recent years, the sad reality is that gender-based violence knows no border. The brutal murder of four Mexican women in Donna, Texas near McAllen on September 4, 2002, stand as a sad reminder of just how vulnerable and invisible victims can be. These working class barmaids or ‘ficheras,’ were reportedly ambushed and assassinated by a patron whose sexual advances were rejected.
The unique needs of border region victims who live in areas with limited or no sexual assault services, who must travel for hours to be seen by a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE), or who may live in isolated and impoverished areas, are what inspired the Capacitadoras en Acción bilingual train the trainer project, of which this Institute is a part of. With the ongoing support and cooperation of the Laredo Victim Advocacy Sin Fronteras Planning Committee members: Florita Tijerina, Sara Buentello, Analia N. Garcia, Karen Hale, Clara Vasquez, Melinda Titus, Lupita Guerrero, Jesus Luis de Leon and especially Mr. Jaime Arizpe we were able to overcome many logistical obstacles and are here to promote the sharing of information with those who will be able to make a difference in their communities. For further program info
About Arte Sana
Arte Sana (art heals) is a nationwide organization dedicated to helping underserved survivors of racial and gender-based violence. As a 501(c)3 non-profit group based in Austin, TX, Arte Sana promotes healing and empowerment through the arts and community education. Founded in 2001, Arte Sana believes that violence risk reduction programs and services must be culturally competent and linguistically appropriate and are committed to the value of indigenous leadership and collaboration sin fronteras (without borders).