Schweiz: Irene Rodriguez

Solidarity is the heart of people. In the name of life, we need respect.

— Irene Rodriguez

Irene Rodriguez was born into a large poor family in Argentina. Her life was filled with rape, brute force, pain, and misery. With only three years of school, Irene soon became a victim of prostitution and slave trade. With unbelievable toughness she managed to survive, to actually free herself, and legalize her existence in Switzerland. She is now a source of power for those who are in the hands of prostitution and slave trade, a tireless fighter for those who are willing to get out. Irene Rodriguez fights for the basic rights of illegal migrants, a voice for those who have none.

Irene Rodriguez never gets tired of opening up new possibilities of a better life to illegal women in Switzerland. She has set up her own radio program to reach as many listeners as possible. She participates in demonstrations against every abuse of basic human rights. Every voice that reaches her finds understanding, shelter, and practical help. Irene is the guardian angel for battered souls. She knows what it is like. She has been there herself. Battered and abused in body and soul as a child, a victim of prostitution and slave trade, escaping more than once only to become ensnared another time, she finally managed to escape and free herself. Now, she works to free other women victims of violence and forced prostitution and to help illegal domestic workers. She shares her experience with others not so fortunate and helps them solve their problems even if it puts herself back into dangerous situations. Indefatigable, Irene travels through Europe to arrange escapes, rescues, salvation for women in desperate situations. The basic problem is always the same: illegal status, no knowledge of personal rights, no self-esteem, and no light at the end of the tunnel. Quite a few can look back today owing their new freedom to Irene’s intervention. She herself is one example of women's efficiency: finally legal in Switzerland, finally with a voice, working as journalist in a radio station in a program for Latinas, finally free to make her own decisions. She now dedicates her life to those who seek her presence, sometimes just to talk about their problems but more often to beg for help. Each second of her life is dedicated to the fight against violence against women, to better the situation of illegal housemaids, to bring an end to the women slave trade.

Minka alter Latina Infoladen Kasama Women's Information Center (FIZ)