We write in reply to the June 21 article about Seeds of Hope,entitled “Women’s vision is a safe house for youngsters in sex trade”. The importance of their work to support adolescent victims of sexual exploitation is difficult to understate.
The article did not mention the magnitude of the problem that Seeds of Hope is working to combat. What many expats living in Costa Rica do not realize is that this country is a major transit and destination point for international sex trafficking. INTERPOL called Costa Rica the fastest rising capital of sex tourism in Latin America, and Costa Rica’s Child Welfare Office estimates that 35,000 children and adolescents are victims of human trafficking here each year.
We at Salvando Corazones are also in the process of opening a safe house for young female victims of coerced prostitution. It is anticipated that within a month we will have all the necessary licensing to begin accepting girls aged 8 to 18 into our 12-bed facility, located in the Lake Arenal area. Our safe house will rely on funding from private individuals and foundations.
In addition to creating safe houses for rescued children, we need to make the climate in Costa Rica less amenable to criminals who buy and sell children like chattel. Part of the mission of Salvando Corazones is to do just that, primarily by raising awareness of the problem among public officials, law enforcement, and the general public. We applaud Seeds of Hope for the work it is doing, we thank A.M. Costa Rica for publicizing it, and we hope others will join the cause.