Editor’s note: Sex workers around Mexico face daily violence and are often forced to pay a “derecho de piso“ fee. "Derecho de piso" is when a fee is paid to criminal gangs who threaten and/or force workers to pay a periodic fee in exchange for letting them work. If one refuses to comply, workers can lose their business or their lives. Mishel Rodriquez was severely punished for not paying this fee.
Miss Trans Star Mexico 2018, Mishel Rodríguez is at home and recovering after going “missing” for 26 days. “I want to inform you that my daughter has been found and we now are looking for justice for what happened. Those responsible must pay for what they did,” stated Virginia Sánchez, mother of Mishel Rodríguez on September 22.
After releasing this statement on Facebook the family has remained largely silent about the details of what occurred but well known trans activist and researcher Yazz Jaziel Bustamante took to Facebook Live to talk about the case. She said Mishel was a sexual worker and was being forced to pay a “derecho de piso” fee for her work. She could not pay and was then kidnapped by 8 men and forced into sex slavery.
“Mishel has wounds in her soul and body, the medical examiner told her she had experienced a rectal detachment as well as other serious physical wounds to her face and body. They threatened to take her life and had her working without pay….this is human trafficking.”
According to Bustamante since being released Mishell’s kidnappers have continued to threaten her and her family with physical violence and even death if they revealed certain information with the authorities.
Bustamante called for trans people to continue to speak out about kidnapping, “derecho de piso” and human trafficking for sex workers.
“Trans and human rights organization in Veracruz, Tabasco and internationally are supporting Michelle and that she is not alone in this struggle.”
Rodríguez went missing on August 29, 2018 in the delegation of Iztapalapa in Mexico City after she went out for tacos and never returned. Her family immediately took to social media and posted flyers in the streets looking for her. She was crowned to Miss Trans Star in earlier this year and was planning to compete in Miss Trans Star International in Barcelona Spain On November 2 and 3.