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They often offer salaries of over 2, dollars. It sounds like a dream to thousands of poor, unemployed teenagers and young women in Argentina. But the advertisement is the gateway to a nightmare: In a society where more than 40 percent of the population lives in poverty, the ads are tempting. Police in the northwestern province of Jujuy have received more than 50 reports of missing young women since September Ads offering sexual services take a different tone: With increasing frequency, the Argentine justice system is breaking up trafficking rings that kidnap women and reduce them to servitude, turning them into merchandise that can be shipped from one place to another without leaving a trail.
These gangs tend to act with the connivance of police, the justice system, and sometimes politicians. In February, in the southern city of Comodoro Rivadavia in Chubut province, the law dealt a harsh blow to a gang operating under police and political protection. They were bringing young women from provinces in the northeast, and passing most of them on to neighbouring Santa Cruz province, where they had links. Besides job offers, another method used is outright kidnapping.
Women are taken far away from their homes, left without money and documents, locked up, isolated, beaten and raped. They are often denied food and forced to consume drugs, the No to Human Trafficking Network affirms, based on the testimony of survivors.
Poverty and unemployment form a breeding-ground for sexual exploitation. One year ago, an independent investigation, instigated by her relatives, led to the discovery and rescue of 17 women who had been sexually exploited by an Argentine ring with connections in Spain.
The main suspect in the kidnapping of Aguirre was arrested soon after the girl disappeared, but died in jail in what was alleged to be a suicide. He was the cousin of a known pimp in the northern province of Santiago del Estero, who is also under arrest but has refused to say where the girl, now 15, might be.