Monday, February 20, 2017

Human Trafficking in Pucallpa, Peru

By Sr. Katty Huanuco, CCVI
"One of the problems in identifying trafficking is that many of the victims do not see themselves as such and may assimilate to their exploitative situation. Despite the harm they experience, they develop mechanisms to cope with the physical and psychological impacts. In some cases, they become dependent on their exploiters, identify with them, and even protect them, to the point of being afraid and not wanting to collaborate with the justice system.” This information comes from the Report of Trafficking in Persons In the Amazon, carried out by Human Social Capital (CHS) in 2016.

These lines led me to rethink the methodology for the workshop: Prevention of Trafficking in Persons in Educational Centers, aimed at Catholic teachers in Pucallpa, Peru. Thus, along with more than 70 teachers, we learned about the tactics of attracting women and girls for the purpose of sexual exploitation in order to share information and prevent students from becoming potential victims of this crime.

Pucallpa is the capital of the state of Ucayali, shares a border with Brazil, and constitutes an important tourist zone of the Peruvian jungle because of its ‘hotel services, dance clubs and night clubs.’ During the training workshop, several teachers, even though they knew about cases of local trafficking, had difficulty identifying their city as a place of exploitation. It seems that this crime has become normalized.

This is not only the case for them, or the population in general, unfortunately it also happens with some authorities.  According to the CHS Report “the main problem for this crime is that there are no trained professionals.  Police and prosecutors often make mistakes in the processes - from incorrectly writing up the offense to following the wrong procedure, which causes a near absence of fiscal oversight."

However, it gives me a lot of hope that the workshop participants were so active and engaged, trying to learn as much as they could.  At the end of the workshop we reflected on various biblical texts that highlight their commitment to prevent more young students from becoming victims of human trafficking.
It is worth mentioning that this event was possible thanks to the support of the Red Kawsay (Consecrated Life for a society without human trafficking) of which we actively participate as a Religious Congregation, and under the coordination of the Diocesan Office of Catholic Education in Pucallpa.

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