Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Degree Level



Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Office


Swedenburg, Ted

Committee Member/Reader

Sabon, Lauren

Committee Member/Second Reader

Shields, Christopher

Committee Member/Third Reader

Wheeler, Jill


The aim of this thesis is to investigate the conditions at two specific border zones, the United States-Mexico border and the Mexico-Guatemalan border, that render undocumented female migrants vulnerable to abduction or recruitment into sexual exploitation. In addition to exploring the factors that expose women to trafficking networks, the study scrutinizes the legal failings of the international law-making community with regards to the safeguarding of women whose socio-economic conditions and environment of perpetual violence prompt their extralegal international movement. The paper provides an overview of the social, economic, and historical factors that underpin the flourishing of sex trafficking operations in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico. In addition, the study identifies the limitations of international law in regards to protecting the human rights of undocumented female migrants and recommends strategies for combating sex trafficking by examining models used by non-profit organizations that take into account both victim protection measures and the enforcement of justice. This thesis concludes that the illegal status undocumented female migrants take on while they navigate through extralegal zones often makes them ineligible to certain forms of protection and relief, causing them to become susceptible to sexual exploitation. The analysis is based on examination of existing literature on trafficking in this particular region and on agencies who serve communities of victimized women.


Northern Triangle