Argentina

Project Monma embarked on a journey to Argentina to learn more about the dark industry of human trafficking.

Travelling through various parts of the country Project Monma spoke with a number of human rights organizations, lawyers, police and local Argentinian’s to learn more about how women and girls are kidnapped, tricked and sold into sexual slavery.

Argentina is considered a destination country for women trafficked from the north of South America and the Caribbean. Thousands of women have been brought to the country and have been sold into sexual slavery. The US State department has estimated that at least 100 000 Latin American women are trafficked internationally each year. Globally, they estimate that 20 million men, women and children could be held as slaves as at any given time.

In Argentina human trafficking came to the public’s attention after the kidnapping of Marita Veron. In the small dusty town of Tucuman in the north of Argentina, Marita was kidnapped on her way for an appointment with her doctor. Two days later her mother, Susana received an anonymous phone call who told her that they had seen a high-end taxi with blacked-out windows parked in the street the day Marita was kidnapped.

It is believed that Marita’s next door neighbor sold her to human traffickers.

Susana began a desperate search for her daughter. She infiltrated trafficking networks and pretended to be a prostitute in the search for her daughter. She met one woman who claimed to have seen Marita and said that she had been sold into a prostitution ring in the La Rioja province. They paid around 2,500 pesos or $660 in drugs for her.

As part of her desperate bid to find her daughter, Trimaco started the foundation Maria de los Angeles in 2007 to help rescue hundreds of victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Project Monma went to Tucuman in Northern Argentina to speak to speak with lawyers, social workers and police who are working to prevent human trafficking in Argentina.

She learned that when girls enter into the brothels they are often gang raped and beaten to break them. They are told they have to ‘repay their debt,’ the cost of transporting them their, however the traffickers ensure that it is impossible for them to pay it off.

‘They try to break them with torture. They are brutally raped and burned with cigarettes. They do the most horrible things that you can imagine. One of the girl’s testified that she was locked inside a closet with the dead body of her friend who tried to escape,’ says Lujan a social worker for Maria de los Angeles.

Julio Benjamin Fernandez, the head of the human trafficking division of the police in Tucuman says there are many situations where husbands force their wives to work as prostitutes in the street.

‘We found a 13 year old girl who was kidnapped by her 28 year old cousin. She took her to a bar and when they arrived, it was a brothel. There are many girls of 13 or 14 years old who are forced to work as prostitutes. We have cases where mothers sell their daughters because of economic reasons. They may be pressured by their husbands.’

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that around half a million women are trapped in human trafficking networks.

Argentina Has a Problem: Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls