Mexican women are aware of the risks involved when they cross the U.S. border illegally. 

But now a large number of them are taking contraceptive pills to prevent unwanted pregnancies knowing that the possibility exists that they might be raped on their journey to the United States.

"We know of cases of women who take these measures when they are on the border, given that in Mexico they don't require a medical prescription to buy contraceptive pills," Anna Ochoa O'Leary, a professor in the Department of Mexican American Studies and a member of the Binational Migration Institute at the University of Arizona, told Efe.

Ochoa O'Leary, who has done several research studies on the matter, said that many women opt to begin taking the birth control pills when they decide to emigrate to the United States, knowing that they face a heightened risk of being raped en route.

"Another method they choose is to take an injection, which has a longer-term effect," the professor said.

Women are one of the most vulnerable groups among undocumented immigrants since they are at risk of being assaulted, beaten, abandoned or sexually abused by the "coyotes" (immigrant smugglers) or their migrant companions when they are crossing the border.

At the beginning of April, Border Patrol agent Esteban Manzanares apparently committed suicide in Texas after kidnapping and raping three undocumented immigrants from Honduras.

In Arizona last December, a 14-year-old Mexican girl reported being raped by the man who was guiding the group of undocumented immigrants with whom she was traveling. 

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