[QODLink]
Americas
Argentina's sex slaves
Al Jazeera's correspondent explores the dark underbelly of the nation's sex industry.
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2007 13:11 GMT

Sandra Anaya says she was threatened
and beaten

 

Argentina is a country of glamour - one that sees itself as a slice of European style in the heart of South America.

But there is another side people don't talk about - a thriving sex industry based on human trafficking.

A perverse, violent and widespread network that preys mainly on poor young women and girls - women who have been forced into sexual slavery.

Young women like Sandra Anaya. She agreed to tell us her story, but only without showing her face.

"If we didn't work, they threatened to kill us, they had weapons, and when we refused they would burn us with cigarettes and beat us."

Sandra was 18 when she was drugged while hitchhiking and forced into sexual slavery.

 

In Video

Watch Lucia Newman's full report here

Her story is not unique.

"It's a mafia, a mafia that couldn't survive without police and government corruption, and complicity," says Sara Torres, from the Coalition Against Women Trafficking.

"The clients always want fresh flesh so they are constantly rotating women from province to province. They work in networks that buy and sell girls.

"Only one pimp has ever been sentenced."

Death threats

It is a story Susana Trimarco knows too well.

Susana Trimarco has been searching for
her daughter for four years
She's been trying to find her daughter Marita for the last four years.

Marita, a young woman with a job, a boyfriend, and a baby girl, was abducted by two men in a car during the day, in front of witnesses, just two streets from her home.

Susana says she made the mistake of telling the police about one of the witnesses. Then the witness disappeared. The other witness would not talk.

She says she constantly receives death threats because of her vocal campaign to denounce traffickers.

'Young and willing'

Forced drug use is commonplace, but not all those forced into prostitution are kidnapped.

Many young women are lured with promises of a well-paid job in a place far away from the poverty they grow up in.

Prostitution and brothels are illegal in Argentina, but they advertise freely in just about every newspaper.

One advertisement in a popular newspaper says: "Get them young and willing."

Another reads "fresh flowers, never picked", a euphemism for virgins.
 
It is a subject the media and the government rarely touch.

But it is a phenomenon as real as Susana Trimarco's agonising search for her daughter.

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.