Argentina's government marked the International Day against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Children by highlighting its increased efforts to combat human trafficking, but the illicit industry remains a major problem in Argentina and across Latin America.
More than 10,000 victims of human trafficking in Argentina have been rescued since 2008, according to information released by the country's Ministry of Justice. 52 percent of those rescued were victims of labor exploitation, while the remaining 48 percent were sex trafficking victims. 54 percent of the victims were foreigners, reported Télam.
There has been a sharp uptick in the numbers of victims the government has rescued over the years. In 2008, only 169 people were rescued; in 2015, that number was 2,110. So far this year there has been a decline, however, as just 299 people were rescued between January and August. Of these 299, 65 percent were victims of forced labor and 35 percent were victims of sexual exploitation. A slight majority (54 percent) were women, according to Télam.
The Argentine government has enacted new policies to combat the scourge of human trafficking, reported Télam. A hotline set up by the government received 1,605 calls from January to August of this year. Yanina Basilico, coordinator of a committee to combat human trafficking, also noted that mailboxes have been installed throughout several neighborhoods in the capital of Buenos Aires, which allow residents to anonymously deposit information that will then be forwarded to the Office of Trafficking and Exploitation of People.
InSight Crime Analysis
An increase in the rescuing of human trafficking victims can be seen as a positive development, but it may also mean that the illicit industry is growing. The 2016 Global Slavery Index (pdf), published by The Walk Free Foundation, estimates that 175,500 people in Argentina live under a form of modern slavery. While that's a small proportion of the country's overall population, it is certainly much higher than the 2,110 people that were rescued in 2015.
Many of the people trafficked in Argentina are forced into slave-like living conditions. A recent report found that Chinese citizens trafficked into Argentina are often put in situations of forced labor and debt bondage. Additionally, a recent investigation into human trafficking at the poorly-monitored border crossing between Villazón, Bolivia and La Quiaca, Argentina revealed that children are frequently sold for just over $300 dollars and trafficked into exploitative industries throughout Argentina.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Argentina
The 2016 Trafficking in Persons report from the US Department of State (pdf) labelled Argentina a tier-two country, which means that while it is does not fully meet minimum standards for protecting trafficking victims, it is making a significant effort to do so. The report noted that people from nearby countries such as Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru are some of the most common trafficking victims.