NEW DELHI: The New York Times said in a report that migrant women were victims of sexual assaults on the US-Mexico border that most often go "unreported, uninvestigated and unprosecuted".
According to the report on Sunday, undocumented women making their way into American border towns have been beaten for disobeying smugglers, impregnated by strangers, coerced into prostitution, shackled to beds and trees and, in at least a handful of cases, bound with duct tape, rope or handcuffs.
The New York Times found dozens of documented cases through interviews with law enforcement officials, prosecutors, federal judges and immigrant advocates around the country, and a review of police reports and court records in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
The report showed over 100 documented reports of sexual assault of undocumented women along the border in the past two decades, a number that most likely only skims the surface, law enforcement officials and advocates have said.
The New York Times report said that last July, a 23-year-old Honduran woman told the authorities that she was sexually assaulted in a bedroom closet by a smuggler who had helped her and her sister cross into the South Texas city of Mission.
The following month, a sheriff's deputy in San Antonio was charged with sexually assaulting the four-year-old daughter of an undocumented Guatemalan woman and threatening to have her deported if she reported the abuse.
In 2017, a guide leading a group of migrants through the Tohono O'odham Nation's reservation in Arizona raped a woman from El Salvador twice during a seven-day desert hike, threatening to leave her stranded if she resisted.
In 2016, a migrant woman fled a stash house in the South Texas city of Edinburg, where she said she had been raped by a smuggler who brandished a machete.
At least five of the women who were assaulted were attacked not by migrant smugglers, who are often the perpetrators, but by on-duty Border Patrol agents and Customs officers, the report said.
Meanwhile, the federal government over a recent four-year period has received more than 4,500 complaints about the sexual abuse of immigrant children at government-funded detention facilities.
But experts told The New York Times that the actual number of sexual assaults was almost certainly much higher because most attacks are never reported.