100 Women: Playing mother to El Salvador's gang children

Bryan Avelar - BBC Mundo

This article from BBC News tells the stories of "cuckoo families" in El Salvador, women and families who are chosen and forced by gang members to care for gang members' children. One woman, Maria, picked up her children from an activity at the local church and found a boy, Andres, waiting to be picked up. She offered him a ride home but when they arrived at the house, no one was there. Maria eventually took the boy home and got a phone call the next day. "It was a man. He said that I was in charge of Andres now," Maria said. "If anything happened to him, worse would happen to me. He said he knew my family. Taking revenge would be easy."

The cuckoo bird, says the article, manipulates a host to take care of its offspring as if it were its own. "Scientists believe, if the substitute mother bird tries to remove the unwanted baby cuckoo, the parent cuckoo will destroy the nest or harm the other chicks in revenge." The same is now happening in parts of El Salvador with high gang presence. "Those who refuse, or get too close to the police or with rival gangs, don't live to tell the tale."