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RESEARCH

The Sacred Women Oracle is a Master in Design Studies thesis about the migration journey of  women coming from Central America’s Northern Triangle to the United States. The study examines the different stages of the trip, including the departure, the transit, and arrival, and the various direct and indirect violence towards Latinas' bodies during the journey.

While migrant numbers are exponentially growing, laws and the reinforcement of borders against immigrants and refugee seekers are expanding fast by xenophobic agendas and policies of isolationism dictated by governments. By presenting the experience of Latinas migrating from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala to the United States, the project displays a landscape of horror, conformed by detention centers, fenced border walls, immigration court tents, migrant border camps, and detention centers.

Rooted in cross-border solidarity between Latinas, Sacred Women explores the role of design to provide tools for a safer trip for women embracing the reclamation of sacredness, ancestral wisdom, and cultural values. It is from this lifeline cooperation, almost like an ancestral act of surviving, that the project departs.


THE JOURNEY NORTHWARD

The persecution of undocumented individuals has extended data. Still, a series of recent bills, such as the Remain in Mexico Policy, directed to limiting the flux of asylum seekers and refugees have created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the U.S.-Mexico border. By strengthening border walls, financing security programs, separating families and women from their children, and denying asylum seekers their right to find peace, among others, the current situation that women face is inhuman.

In recent decades, border regimes have expanded their limits to the interior of countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador, Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, and Panama, using militarized strategies against the undocumented. Although the project's first intention was to light the lack of sexual and reproductive care amidst women along the journey, the cruelty of the reality made the study expand and include not only a health perspective but also educational and legal notions in the project.


The horrors Latinas confront are present in the most visible sequences along their migration journeys, such as detention centers or border apprehensions, but often even before they have decided to leave their homes, in their daily lives. Women experience the journey differently than men. They are not only subjects of more physical violence and abuse, but they also have specific survival strategies.

The conditions of risk and sexual assaults are so common that they are assumed as part of a migrant woman's experience, and even as part of the high price they have to pay. Central American women have developed diverse strategies to reduce threats, which, although they do not prevent assaults or abuses, they at least lessen them. In the case of women that take their children along the trip, the strategies they use are substantially affected. Migrant Latinas are aware of the dangers of undocumented migration for themselves and their children, but they do not have another choice in many cases.






Sacred Women is a thesis project by Carolina Sepúlveda for Harvard GSD, MDes, Art, Design and the Public Domain, 2020.