Internationally, UNICEF estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked around the world each year, and 1.8 million children (mostly girls) are forced to sell their bodies. Peru has not been spared from this abhorrent form of slavery.
The country’s fascinating cultural heritage and Incan legacy are being eclipsed by a more sinister attraction. Peru has become a source for modern day slaves, with young women and children being trafficked and sold into the commercial sex trade. These victims are brought from remote areas to tourist destinations – including Lima, Cusco and Iquitos – for the purpose of commercial sex exploitation. Others are trafficked to Western Europe, Japan and the United States for the same purpose. One such child – a young girl named Veronica – was recently found dead in a Lima hotel room after being strangled by a sexual predator.
In 2006, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reported that there are 500,000 child victims of sexual exploitation and violence in the country. Because 60 percent of Peru’s youth live in poverty, children are especially vulnerable. Tourism to Peru is booming, and continues to increase at a rate of 10 percent annually. This is fueling the demand for children in the sex trade – and because corruption is rife in Peruvian society, it has been allowed to flourish. Perpetrators are not punished, and victims are given no protection, legal or otherwise.
Although aware of the existence of child sex tourism and human trafficking, the Peruvian government has not taken effective action on either. “The Government of Peru does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” states a report released in June 2008 by the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, “particularly in the areas of investigating and prosecuting trafficking acts, fighting trafficking-related corruption, and improving victim protection.”
Join us in telling the government of Peru that we are aware of this reprehensible situation. Please modify (if you wish), sign, and send us a copy of the attached action campaign letter. We will mail these to the appropriate authorities, letting them know how we feel about a shameful practice that reflects poorly on all travelers.
Ethical Traveler’s campaign against child sex trafficking in Peru is being waged in association with Global Exchange, Not For Sale-Peru, Generacion, and Peruvian Net Against Child Pornography. Please visit their links below for more information.
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