1,100 girls sexually exploited in Peru mining camps

Illegal gold mining is at its height in the Madre de Dios region, and mining camps set up on various stretches of the Interoceanica Highway have attracted other activities as well, including the so-called "prostibars" where police found 20 teenaged girls in a recent sweep, El Comercio reported.

Bars promoting the prostitution of underage girls mostly brought from the Cuzco and Puno regions "operate as franchises, where the female owners and administrators are almost always related", Madre de Dios Police Chief Miguel Fernando Navarrete said.

Girls are usually recruited near home by women who drop into their communities and tempt them with offers of work in stores or as domestics, but they end up forced to work as prostitutes in bars in the Inambari and Huepetuhe districts.

The director of Save the Children in Peru, Teresa Carpio, visited some of these mining camps last week and was surprised to find that the administrators, some of whom are wanted for kidnapping and human trafficking, consider it totally normal for underage girls to do this kind of work.

Only 32 cases of human trafficking have been brought before prosecutors in Mazuco, capital of the Inambari district, the nearest to the mining-camp area, and only three people have been sentenced for this crime in all Madre de Dios, the daily said.

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