A human-trafficking victim’s wrist, crudely tattooed with a “bar code” and the “debt” her traffickers claim she “owed” them, used to force her into prostitution. Yes, this happens in Spain.
It’s an all too familiar story of human trafficking: women lured to western Europe with promises of jobs, and not allowed to return home until they’ve paid off their “debts” to the mobsters who brought them there to be prostituted in brothels and “nightclubs”. We’re already familiar with horror stories of women from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe being trafficked. This time, the victims are from South America:
A network dedicated to the sexual exploitation of Brazilian and Venezuelan women in Galicia, Spain, was designed to siphon off profits and send them to Brazil without arousing suspicion, and owned properties worth 3 million euros.
Ten persons have been arrested, six of them in the provinces of Orense and Pontevedra, who were the most responsible in the network, and another four in Brazil, by the Spanish and Brazilian federal police forces. Three of them are now in prison.
The network operated out of nightclubs in Orense and Pontevedra, exploiting women between the ages of 20 and 30, from Brazil and Venezuela. They were offered jobs in Spain where, in order to force them into prostitution, their passports were confiscated, and they were subjected to threats and pressure, not only upon themselves but also their families, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
The nucleus of the group was a family whose head was married to a Brazilian woman. The subject, a native of Orense, was wanted by the judicial authorities for pimping. Brazilian authorities have requested the crime boss’s extradition for pending charges.
The prostitution network was directed by the man, his wife and two sons, and included the woman’s mother.
The pattern, as we can see, is universal. To keep the women from escaping, their passports were stolen from them. Threats of violence to not only them, but their families back home, ensured their compliance. And since the network had tentacles in two South American countries, it’s quite possible that the thugs could have made good on their threats to the women’s families back home.
And the destruction of the Spanish social safety net no doubt exacerbated the women’s plight, too…even if they could escape their captors, it’s unlikely that they would have found shelter and social welfare adequate to their needs. Most likely, they would have ended up back in prostitution. The demand for prostitutes is so ravenous in western Europe that the few local women who work in the sex trade voluntarily are grossly outnumbered by foreign women…most of them definitely NOT in the trade by choice.
This bust was undoubtedly just a drop in the bucket. And until the demand for prostitutes is brought down, networks like this one will just keep popping back up like mushrooms after a rainstorm.