[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
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Influential independence figure has been key in promoting Scottish nationalism, but will his efforts succeed?
Teenage phenom with quick hands and a passion for boxing has reminded many of the great Filipino fighter at a young age.
Families of Britons killed in 2013 siege at gas plant in Algeria frustrated by inquiry delay over 'sensitive' materials.
Rhinoceros beetles once drew 40,000 visitors each year to Tamura city, but nuclear disaster has decimated beetle mania.
In run-up to US midterm elections, backers of immigration law changes disappointed by postponement of executive action.
join our mailing list