Lydia Cacho Ribeiro,
Civil Courage Prize Honoree 2011
Lydia Cacho Ribeiro is a prominent Mexican journalist and human rights defender famous for her
exposés on sex trafficking, child pornography, and domestic violence.
In the course of her work, she has made powerful enemies by linking well-known politicians and business
elite with the systemized abuse of women and children. As a consequence of these reports, Cacho herself
has undergone numerous attacks and received death threats.
In her 2005 book The Demons of Eden, Cacho revealed a large child pornography ring in Cancún and the
United States. The book provoked retaliation by her enemies, including her kidnapping, torture and
wrongful arrest. She was subjected to a year-long criminal defamation trial and was cleared of all charges
Most recently, her work has taken her around the globe for her book Slaves of Power: A Journey to the
Heart of World Sex Trafficking of Women (soon to be released in English). Of her experiences she says:
For five years I travelled around the world following the trails of the mafia rights – big and small – who gain $35
billion a year by selling sex slaves in the local and international markets. I have followed the Colombian mafia to Venezuela, Guatemala and Mexico. I went through the United States looking for the human slave market and found it next to the White House, in Chicago and New York. I listened to the children in Cuba, and dressed up as a prostitute in Dominican Republic to interview European and American sex tourists who pay $3,000 for a virgin teenager. In a dehumanizing market economy, millions of people assume that prostitution is a minor evil.
In my career, I've survived rape, incarceration and an assassination attempt for exercising my freedom to be an echoer of other women voices. And here I am making a free choice that millions of our sisters cannot make. Until we walk the path together, I'll keep writing.
Cacho is currently a columnist for the Mexican national paper El Universal and founder of the nonprofit Women's Assistance Center in Cancún, which provides free legal, psychological and medical services to victims of sexual violence.
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