More than 73,000 people are missing in Mexico, the government said on Monday, some 11,500 more than in a previous total and a grim statistic underscoring the rights abuses suffered since the country began a militarized push against drug cartels.
A quarter of the missing are female, and the tally includes more than 12,000 children as well, according to the published data. Most of the missing children are girls.
The disappeared suffer crimes from kidnapping to homicide, but authorities have said some likely are victims of human trafficking, from young men threatened to work for drug cartels to women forced into the sex trade
Monday’s update, however, showed no suspected trafficking victims, although the list was still lacking data from some states.
The country has been criticized for its incomplete and even misleading data on the crime.
The vast majority of the missing have disappeared since 2006, when former President Felipe Calderon launched a military campaign against organized crime.
Monday’s count was 11,500 people more than in January, as the government revised up its figures from previous years.
Homicides and femicides rose to record levels last year in Mexico.
“We have made it a priority to give answers to the victims of violence in our country, so they can have their right to the truth and to justice,” Interior Minister Olga Sanchez said in a news conference.
More than 6,600 bodies have been dug up from illegal hidden graves since December 2006, the government said Monday.
Activists say Mexicans have disappeared at the hands of organized crime and the local and federal government, with the line between the groups often blurred.
The search for the missing has historically been led by mothers working in collectives to scour the country looking for lost loved ones.
Reporting by Christine Murray; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org