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Human Trafficking In South America

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Human trafficking within South America is strongly pervasive and detrimental to the community and political system. 80% of the reported victims are women, from there, 51% are adults and 31% are girls under the age of eighteen. Girls are more vulnerable than boys concerning sex trafficking, and most of the victims are from South America. “Peru is the third country with the highest rate of human trafficking in America and places eighth among 167 countries,” says the Public Ministry in 2016. In Peru, more children are victims compared to adults, because there is an acceptable belief, that a child should go to work so that he or she can help their parents. The most common form of exploitation is sexual and some less common forms include forced labor and forced begging. Most exploiters are men (63%), women (37%), and many are couples where the husband is dedicated to capturing humans while his wife exploits the victims by trafficking them.

In Peru, the most famous form of capturing is by offering money for labor, that is why it is very common that victims are from underprivileged cities that have a big acceptance rate of child labor. For example, Cusco has a high poverty rate so many exploiters offer unique opportunities to work outside the city, allegedly only during vacations. Thus, poor people become very attracted to the idea of getting a lot of money and then coming back, but they never return.

The public ministry of Peru reports that they have identified the trafficked market: in Loreto, victims are taken to Lima, in Cusco and Puno they are taken to Madre de – to La Pampa. Sexual exploiters say that they just need the money that they invested in the girls and they will be free, yet they retain their documents and do not allow them to go out. If they go out, they have a fine, making it impossible to pay all the debt. Lucía Nuñovero, an abolitionist of the Public Ministry of Peru, reported that in Madre de Dios from 100,000 citizens, 101 are victims of sexual trafficking. Most victims’ reports are not even listened to by authorities.

Sexual trafficking is not the only form of trafficking in Peru. It is an incredible country with many resources, but those resources require a workforce to make use of them. Labor trafficking requires the lowest cost of production, which creates a demand for slaves. Although the government of Peru is making great efforts to eliminate human trafficking, it does not fulfill all requirements to finish with it. Human trafficking in Peru is a huge epidemic and dilemma that needs more effort to fight against it. Until then, Peru will remain on Tier 2.

The government of Peru has been improving its efforts to eliminate human trafficking. The Public Ministry of Peru reports that this year the police have captured 143 possible exploiters and 802 victims: 91 were minors. Between 2016 and 2019, 3500 victims have been recognized in human trafficking. In September of this year, the Public Ministry presented two new protocols to enforce the fight against human trafficking. The first one expresses that victims can be protected from prosecution instead of being linked with exploiters, and the second one is that victims could receive protection and help in reintegrating into society as normal people.

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Nowadays, the government of Peru has identified the marketplace and is trying to intervene with developed strategies. The top police officer of the department of criminal investigation has explained that this year, they have made a huge transformation in the department of Madre de Dios-La Pampa. He explained that they are doing an operation called “Mercurio”. It fights against illegal mining and all the unconstitutional activities around it: labor exploitation and sex trafficking. This operation has three phases, the first one lasts 15 days where police officers will identify and take action against exploiters. The second stage lasts 6 months to consolidate the results and the third one lasts 2 years. In this period, they will look to modify the situation and establish a better place where no one will be exploited.

Doing this operation, they found out that the top police officer of Madre de Dios used to be part of one of the biggest human trafficking networks. This was the main reason why police officers from there were prohibited to go to La Pampa and; when they used to go, he used to communicate the trafficking mafias to hide. Even though the police tried to make efforts and find the culprits, traffickers are free because of the unacceptable organization of the criminal justice association. According to the Alternative Human and Social Capital association, from 100 founded cases of human trafficking, only 6 were punished.

Conferring to the Walk Free Foundation’s (WFF) Global Slavery Index reported in 2014, currently, it is estimated that approximately 66,300 are living in slavery in Peru- and what happens after they are identified? Peru is still lacking funds to build bigger shelters and provide professionals that could help victims of trafficking. Through the four cities with the highest grades of human trafficking, there are only 30 non-profits, governmental organizations, and NGOs that bring all the aspects of human trafficking such as avoidance, mediation, and protection to public attention. Even though they have insufficient funds, they bring services such as shelter, psychological support, education, and technical skills, nutrition, employment sources, and legal services.

This year the executive system presented the law N°30925 that enforces harbored shelters for victims of human trafficking and child labor. Having harbored shelters, professional people can help victims to reintegrate into society. In the first month, victims are not allowed to go out because of their security. In the third month, victims can attend a school or a technical institution paid by NGOs. The last step of the reintegration process is the labor process, there are some NGOs that help victims to work, such as CEDNA or CIMUVI. This is a big step because now NGOs will not be alone in the fight against human trafficking; they will have the support of the government. There also exists the MINJUS, which are the people assigned to help victims of human trafficking in matters related to legal resources and legal enforcement.

In 2017, the Peruvian congress presented the “New National Plan of Actions against Human Trafficking 2017-2021”. It has a budget to focus on the reintegration of victims. According to congresswoman Karla Schaefer “The government should focus on education to promote that people are not a product. Public education will reduce risk factors to get involved in human or sexual trafficking”.

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Human Trafficking In South America. (2021, September 06). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 1, 2023, from
“Human Trafficking In South America.” Edubirdie, 06 Sept. 2021,
Human Trafficking In South America. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Jun. 2023].
Human Trafficking In South America [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 06 [cited 2023 Jun 1]. Available from:
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