Empowering women and girls to break free from exploitation

Empowering girls and women to break free from exploitation and human trafficking

For years, the Good Shepherd mission in Peru has been committed to combating human trafficking and empowering vulnerable women and girls in their communities, particularly in the city of Tacna, where the number of victims of human trafficking is among the highest. Peru has recently become a transit point for migrants and refugees, and Tacna, a small town close to the Chilean border, is the preferred destination for migrants from rural areas of the country and from other Latin American countries such as Venezuela, in search of job opportunities and a better life. 

Without any support network or financial resources to cover their basic needs, migrant women and young girls in particular are at a higher risk of being trafficked. Additionally, economic, social and structural inequalities which persist in Peru create opportunities for traffickers to take advantage of women and girls in precarious or desperate situations, luring them for example with false promises of lucrative employment opportunities.  

To break this cycle of exploitation, the Good Shepherd’s project for human trafficking prevention provided 107 women and 69 girls with training programs in sewing, handicrafts, and baking, as well as business management and development. By having easier access to economic and employment opportunities, they are less likely to fall into traffickers’ traps. The training also instilled entrepreneurial spirit in some girls and women who, feeling more confident, started embracing the idea of becoming entrepreneurs and running their businesses. To encourage them to continue on this path, some participants received a small start-up kit and additional funds to kickstart their businesses. In addition to these trainings, about 300 women and girls were provided socio-psycho support, legal guidance, and empowerment & social sessions to improve their well-being and boost their self-esteem.

Raising awareness about trafficking in persons at individual and community levels was also at the core of the project: accurately informing girls and women about migration and trafficking enables them to make the right decisions and protect themselves. It was also crucial to involve teachers, parents and community leaders, so that they could play a part in creating a safer environment and become partners in preventing human trafficking. To this end, 1000 teachers and family members received training on the main forms of recruitment, existing laws and different types of exploitation, which contributed to the building of community awareness and preparedness towards the threat of human trafficking.   

Finally, an investigation, integrated into the project, was carried out on human trafficking in Tacna. These findings will guide the development of the project for the next years, providing clear and valuable recommendations for future action.  

Human trafficking is a crime of a complex nature, and serious challenges remain. But alongside its partners, GSIF remains steadfast in tackling social, economic and structural barriers to ensure that girls and women in Peru and the Latin America region are empowered in their communities and can break free from any form of exploitation. 

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