Tuesday was the International Day against Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking, and the observance produced some unusual statistics.
An article in Acontecer Digital at the Universidad Estatal a Distancia reported that in San José there were 2,000 young girls working in prostitution. The article cited Colombians, Dominicans and Filipinos who have been brought to Costa Rica for sexual reasons. There was no attribution.
However, the article says that the International Police Agency saying that each year there are 35,000 Colombian women who are victims of trafficking, presumably in Costa Rica.
At the legislature Tuesday, Sandra Piszk Feinzilber asked her fellow lawmakers to pay more attention to the situation. She said that modern slavery and trafficking of all types involves 20.9 million victims each year and that the international Labor Organization says that 18.7 million are exploited for economic reasons by individuals and companies.
Despite the large numbers of trafficking victims supposedly in Costa Rica, the Acontecer Digital correctly reported that just 29 persons in Costa Rica were considered trafficking victims in 2013. Still, it said, 2.5 million persons in Latin America are victims of trafficking. The university is part of a network that studies and keeps statistics on trafficking.
Part of the reason for the confusion has been the way statics have been very broad. Generally they do not separate out those forced into prostitution form those who are willing participants. Costa Rica has seen cases of both, including women brought to the country under false pretenses and then forced into prostitution by individuals who confiscate passports.
Most are not aware that there are special programs for trafficking victims, including temporary residency. In addition, included in the mix are persons who pay to be transported through Costa Rica with the goal of reaching the United States. A recent case involved citizens of Nepal who were stopped by the Fuerza Pública.
A case of forced labor developed when the crew of a foreign fishing boat said they have been forced to work without pay.