A Medellin NGO on Wednesday condemned what they claim is Colombia‘s government’s negligence in protecting victims and prosecuting criminals in response to the largely unrecognized problem of sex trafficking in the country.
“There isn’t a single program for the victims,” Betty Pedraza, director of Espacios de Mujer, toldColombia Reports. “But everything looks good on paper,” she said referring to the U.S. State Department’s classification of Colombia as a tier one country in fighting against human trafficking.
Women from Medellin who have been coercively transported to other parts of the country to be exploited as sex workers for armed groups and who somehow manage to escape are welcomed by Espacios de Mujer for crisis managment, medical help, and psychological counciling. They also provide aid to prostitutes who operate legally in Colombia.
“There is an invisible line between a prostitute and victim of human trafficking,” said Pedraza.
Victims often shy away from cooperating with prosecutors, if they are ever found at all. For fear of reprisal, victims keep their mouths shut as is the case in many instances of human rights abuses in Colombia. However, in order to receive government aid, a victim must implicate those responsible.
“Care for victims should be independent of the prosecution of criminals,” said the NGO director.
Source: Columbia Reports