Peru’s human trafficking problem is rooted in poverty. Among disadvantaged populations, many parents expect their children to work in order to supplement income. Unsuspecting young people in search of legitimate employment end up sold to mines or locked up in brothels. They are deprived of a childhood and exposed to ordeal that can have long lasting physical and psychological effects.
The fact that families allow their children to work makes the trafficker’s job much easier. Traffickers lure the victims through employment agencies or sometimes through marriage proposals, illegal adoption or the Internet. A high number of those trafficked in Peru are indigenous women and girls.
While some children are kidnapped and forced into labour, many are reported to have been exploited by people they trust, further complicating efforts to stem child trafficking.
Capital Humano y Social Alternativo (CHS Alternativo) is a Peruvian organisation with over 15 years of experience in dealing with people trafficking, particularly of young boys and girls.
Through direct contact with victims and through its lobbying efforts, it has worked to prevent human trafficking, assist victims of trafficking and advocates for the protection of children and young people from the threat of the practice.
Its Centro de Atención Legal y Psicológica offers free legal advice and psychological counselling to victims at its Lima and Iquitos centres. The centres also provide educational workshops and classes in self-defence, drama and IT.
Through its awareness schemes, it has prevented 1,800 adults, children and adolescents from entering into dangerous situations that lead to trafficking. It is currently handling 620 cases.
In Iquitos, CHS Alternativo has worked with 853 students over the last three years.
Working with local and regional partners, CHS Alternativo has designed strategies to help coordinate between government bodies and other organisations working on children’s protection.
Photo: Paco Chuquiure/Stars Foundation