Masthead for South Amercia Out of the Shadows


According to the latest figures from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the sexual exploitation of women and girls remains the most common form of human trafficking in South America, with most victims being trafficked within their home country or region. A 2019 Polaris report found that 77 percent of immigrant victims from Latin America and the Caribbean were trafficked into labor situations, primarily into agriculture labor (Polaris). The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that forced labor generates annual profits of $12 billion from Latin America and the Caribbean.


Photo of Melinda

Wanting to flee the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, Melinda accepted a man’s offer to pay for her to travel to Spain so she could pursue a better life. When they arrived in Spain, the man forced Melinda into sex trafficking to pay back her debt. Threatened by potential harm to her family back home and worried that her daughter and mother in Venezuela would have no money for food if she tried to leave, Melinda stayed. Melinda was finally identified as a victim of sex trafficking in a police raid on a brothel. (Source)
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Photo of Natalicia

“When I was 14, I began to work nearby as a nanny for a family of two doctors who had recently had a baby. About two years later they invited me to travel with them to Boston to care for their toddler. Everyone around me encouraged me to go. Every day, I woke up at 6 a.m., dressed, and worked nonstop, from morning until night. I made breakfast and served the family. I cleaned the house until it was spotless. I took care of their child. I did all the laundry. Often, they would eat everything I cooked and leave nothing for me.” (Source)
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