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Peru: Human-trafficking groups target women


There were 1,548 reported cases of human trafficking in Peru, 84% involving minors, between January 2007 and August 2013, according to the Office of the Attorney General’s Crime Observatory.

The Peruvian government is working to make sure no one ever has to endure the pain that a 16-year-old girl on the outskirts of the city of Jaén is suffering today.

The awareness and informational campaign against human trafficking by the NGO Capital Humano y Social Alternativo has developed a presence in Lima, Peru. (Courtesy of CHS Alternativo)

Dressed in high heels, a white top and a floral skirt, a teenager whose name is being withheld for safety reasons said she’s been forced into prostitution in the region of Cajamarca, 1,037 kilometers northeast of Lima, after being abducted by traffickers.

The teenager refuses to provide details about who took her from her home in the eastern city of Pucallpa, saying only she earns $35 soles (US$10) for her services.

She’s too scared to escape her captors, hoping she will one day be reunited with her mother, who works as a maid in Lima. The teen said her father was murdered, refusing to reveal his name.

Her story is one the Peruvian government doesn’t want to be relived by anyone, as officials are focused on stopping the human-trafficking groups who are terrorizing the Andean nation, according to Teresa Soberón Paredes, the district attorney at the Provincial Government of Jaén.

“[The women] are conned with good job offers,” Soberón Paredes said, adding many businesses operate as façades for this crime in Jaén. “They are told they are going to study, work as domestic employees or hostesses. Gradually, they are dragged into this world and believe they have no means of escape.”

There were 1,548 reported cases of human trafficking in Peru, 84% involving minors, between January 2007 and August 2013, according to the Office of the Attorney General’s Crime Observatory.

Several premises were raided in Jaén last year, resulting in the rescue of about 50 victims. In June 2013, police in Jaén conducted “Operation Impact,” when they raided the El Refugio nightclub, rescuing three minors and arresting the club’s manager, Neiser Medina, on the suspicion of human trafficking, though he was later released.

In addition to Cajamarca, organized crime groups use the northeastern jungle region of Loreto to lure victims, while the central areas of Junín and Huánuco, the northern areas of Lambayeque and La Libertad and the south areas of Arequipa and Cusco are all trafficking hotspots, according to Alberto Arena, executive director of the NGO Capital Humano y Social Alternativo (CHS Alternativo).

Criminal organizations move in and out of regions frequently, making them difficult to dismantle, said Arena, whose NGO has been fighting human trafficking since 2006.

“Complexly structured organizations are at work in Peru, where they work together because human trafficking is a highly profitable [crime],” Arena said. “One group captures victims, another transports them and a third group coaches and exploits the victims. It’s a long criminal chain spread across Peru.”

Most victims wind up in Lima, according to the Legal and Psychological Guidance and Care Center at CHS Alternativo. However, another region with a large concentration of victims is Madre de Dios, where mining camps have become a highly profitable business for traffickers, according to Arenas.

“Human trafficking in this region is closely linked with illegal mining,” he said. “There are around 350,000 miners and an estimated 35,000 victims alone in this region.”

Seven out of 10 victims were abducted through informal job offers, Arenas added.

“Victims are easy targets in this deregulated environment,” Arenas said. “There is no contract or protection for employees. In most instances, they see offers on flyers in the street or posts on social networks. We should bear in mind that women are not just subject to sexual exploitation but labor exploitation, too. Many victims fall into this type of life and it’s extremely difficult to get them to report what is happening.”

Fight against trafficking

The Law against Human Trafficking and Illegal Trafficking of Migrants was passed in 2007. Four years later, Peru launched the 2011-2016 National Action Plan against People Trafficking, which aims to bring together all state bodies to fight human trafficking.

But to date, no specialized centers or refuges have been established to support victims, according to the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Hostels that would supposedly be used as refuges at a national level have fallen by the wayside,” Arenas said. “This is why if [victims] manage to escape, they are hunted down, threatened and recaptured.”

But some progress has been made, as officials have made 1,655 interventions with businesses suspected of playing a role in human trafficking by offering phony job offers, according to Dr. Ana María Navarro, the president of the Lima Board of Senior Prosecutors.

“Operations are being run with the National Police since thorough intelligence work is required,” she added. “This crime involves a highly structured organization.”

Source: Infosurhoy