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Testimony of Sr. Ana Maria Vilca, SNJM. Coordinator of Red Kawsay Perù

I am Ana Maria Vilca Mamani, from Peru, a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. In 2004, we took a stand as a congregation to foster respect for human rights by opposing the trafficking of women and children who are sexually exploited and pushed into forced labor.

I am part of the Kawsay Perù Network since 2016 and have been assuming the Coordination from 2020 onwards.

What is the situation of human trafficking in Peru? According to you, what are the main challenges?

In our country, human trafficking dynamics have transformed as a result of the pandemic and the migratory context. Recruitment and exploitation methods have mainly turned to the Internet. Exploitation has become even more clandestine, making it difficult to identify and denounce cases.

Recruitment networks have been using new modalities, such as the use of new technologies, to attract potential victims, both nationals and foreigners. At the same time, they take advantage of the new social situation to exploit people with greater impunity. This is explained by the lack of opportunities generated by the economic crisis resulting from COVID-19, which exacerbated the vulnerability of certain groups of people, exposing them even more to the risk of trafficking.

The economic crisis has had an impact on the sources of income of many people who were already in a situation of vulnerability. As a result, they are much more likely to accept informal jobs or jobs in which the conditions are not very clear and which could easily lead to labor exploitation.

One of the main challenges for the network is the lack of structures to accompany and protect survivors of trafficking. Likewise, other networks dedicated to minors and the elderly have precarious facilities and very basic infrastructures, they do not have specialized personnel. They offer a space where victims of different crimes coexist, namely sexual and family violence, family home eviction, and physical and psychological mistreatment (among others).

What is the response of the Kawsay Perù Network to the phenomenon of trafficking in the territory?

Kawsay Perù Network’s work in the fight against human trafficking was inspired by the Conference of Religious of Peru. Throughout these years, we have welcomed new members, each having their own contributions to strengthen the Network and our mission of awareness, prevention, training, and advocacy, always in partnership with other networks.

The reality we live in as a country compels us to intensify our response to the clamor of people living in vulnerable situations. These cries today are outcries urging us to sharpen our ears and eyes to recognize situations of injustice. 

Our journey these past few years have been filled with learning, allowing the growth of the Network. We faced challenges that made us value more working together as an articulated and synodal Network.

Can you share any experience in serving victims and survivors of trafficking and/or groups with vulnerabilities?

Let me share with you the case of "Julia"; a 15-year-old teenager. One day, she went to a place where they rented computers with internet to do her homework. There, an acquaintance insisted that she and some friends go for a quick walk. She was assured that soon she would be back home.

From that moment on, Julia disappeared for several days. She was taken to the capital, to places she still cannot identify. She was found completely drugged, with dyed hair and flashy clothes. She was being sexually exploited.

She is currently living in a governmental Residential Shelter Center. Soon turning 18 years old, Julia is a very intelligent young woman and dreams of studying at the University. However, she does not have a stable family network. For this reason, she will be welcomed and accompanied in the "Comunidad Desatanudos" of the Kawsay Perù Network.

What does it mean to you to be part of Talitha Kum?

It means "walking together" in this global village; together towards a common goal: to free LIFE that is threatened.