Hundreds of indigenous people, including children, are trafficked each year across Ecuador

Hundreds of indigenous people, including children, across Ecuador are being trafficked each year but few victims come forward because of shame and fear and little is known about the true scale of the problem, campaigners say.

In Ecuador, the most common form of human trafficking involves women and girls forced into sex work, with indigenous women and children and migrants especially targeted.

Traffickers prey on poor indigenous families and their children by offering false promises of opportunities to study or good jobs, often as domestic workers or farm laborers.

*This article was published with the permission of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org. It does not necessarily represent the views of InSight Crime. See the original here.

"People are tricked. They are offered everything," said Magdalena Fueres, an indigenous leader who belongs to Ecuador's kichwas people.

"Girls who have been trafficked don't report what's happened to them because of shame and fear," said Fueres, who heads UNORCAC, an association of indigenous women in Ecuador.

Their fear often stems from the traffickers' threats to harm their family, she said.

Indigenous people make up about seven percent of Ecuador's population of more than 16 million, with 14 different indigenous groups living from the Amazon jungle to the Andean highlands.

Forced child begging on city streets and forced labor involving indigenous men also occurs in Ecuador's gold and copper mines, and banana and palm plantations, experts say.

Traffickers are known to lure people from their own communities and can face punishment under traditional laws.

SEE ALSO: Ecuador News and Profiles

"We carry out our indigenous justice in some trafficking cases," Fueres said, during an online forum hosted by the Regional Advisory Foundation for Human Rights (INREDH) on Wednesday.

She said unemployment and poverty also push people out of their rural indigenous communities to seek work in Ecuador's cities, where they are at risk of falling prey to traffickers.

Fueres said her community is spreading the message about the dangers of human trafficking through youth theater performances.

"Raising awareness about labor exploitation and sexual abuse through acting, theater has more impact," Fueres said. "Trafficking isn't a word we use. We have to explain it using our own language."

Ecuador introduced a national anti-trafficking action plan in 2013 to better protect and help victims of human trafficking and the crime carries a prison sentence of up to 26 years.

Authorities arrested 56 suspected traffickers and carried out 52 anti-trafficking operations in 2016, up from 10 in 2015, according to the U.S. State Department's 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report.

SEE ALSO: Human Trafficking Coverage

But Veronica Supliguicha, who heads Colibri Wings Foundation, an Ecuadorian rights group that helps rescued victims, said the true scale of trafficking is not known and that the problem is grossly under-reported.

"Victims of trafficking often don't see themselves as victims," Supliguicha said. "Trafficking cases can be wrongly reported as cases of rape and sexual abuse."

*This article was published with the permission of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org. It does not necessarily represent the views of InSight Crime. See the original here.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.