Twenty-one million people in the world are currently victims of human trafficking and forced to live as slaves: over half get sexually exploited and 70% are women or children (source UN). Slave trade has always been a plauge in Latin America, at least 100,000 women and under-age people every year get traded as sex slaves. Only in Buenos Aires over one thousand illegal brothels are both mixed up with fashionable places in Corrientes or Santa Fe and hidden in its immense suburbs and approximately three women every day disappeare. I started a journey in the deep horror of sex slaves’ life when I first met the Madres Víctimas de Trata (MVT; Mothers of Sex Trade Victims), an NGO recently founded by mothers, relatives, collaborators and friends of missing girls. MVT, without any help from the government, gives sex trade victims who have survived and escaped from brothels assistance and a guidance to social and economic reinsertion, resorting to therapy, education and training.
My project – which I started in November 2015 and a small part of which has been already published in Italy by the daily paper La Repubblica – is aimed at exploring the deep implications of this social scourge giving voice to sex trade desaparecidas through the voice of Fabiola.
Fabiola is a Paraguayan girl of 21 years, she weighs 32kg and has no front teeth. Sold to traffickers by his brother, she was taken to Buenos Aires with the excuse of a new job as a nanny where she has been kidnapped and forced into prostitution in a clandestine brothel. For three years she had sex with thirty-five men every day after her verginity was sold to a tourist for approximately 1000 euros. At night she suffered all kinds of violence by the brothel “master” that drugged her, bound her and defecated on her face. and, Fabiola managed to escape the brothel with the help of a customer. She lived on the streets for months, hiding, in fear of being discovered, mistreated or robbed. Later, she met an illiterate “cartoneros” (collector of cardboard in the streets) and together they went to live in a “villa miseria” (slum). MVT managed to track her down and they are now helping her to solve her serious physical and mental health problems.
Who is Fabiola now? Is she really outside the tunnel? Can she be “saved”? My job is to tell what her glassy eyes witnessed and to depict what her dried up body has suffered.
The story of Fabiola is the story of thousands of girls who are kidnapped and disappear everyday in Argentina and around the world.