Washington Post ‘Fact Check’ Parses Whether Migrant Women ‘Sexually Abused’ or ‘Assaulted’ by Traffickers

(INSET: Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post) HUIXTLA, MEXICO - JANUARY 20: People from a caravan of Central American migrants protect themselves from the sun as they walk along a roadway on their way to the United States, on January 20, 2019 in Huixtla, Mexico. Some members of the caravan …
Mario Tama/Getty Images, Washington Post

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler fired off a “fact check” during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, parsing whether migrant women were “sexually abused” or “assaulted” while traveling through Mexico to the United States with human traffickers.

In his remarks, the president appeared to cite a May 2017 report via Doctors Without Borders, which says: “1 in 3 women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north.”

“Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate –it is cruel,” Trump began. “One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country.”

“Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery,” he continued.

Kessler objected, saying DWB’s survey could be flawed because the organization did not conduct a random-sample survey. Rather, it spoke with 500 women who were treated by doctors  — 12 percent who were reportedly women.

The Post’s fact-checker continued: “So the statistic is derived from the experiences of 56 women and cannot necessarily be considered representative of all migrant women.”

He then notes 31.4 percent of female respondents women alleged they were “sexually abused” during their trips, instead of “sexually assaulted.”

Thus, only 10.7 percent of the women migrants surveyed were actually either raped or faced some other form of sexual violence — a very important distinction for Kessler.


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