Sex Trafficking Victims Forced to Work in Illicit Cantinas, Claims Polaris Study
Ellen Wulfhorst - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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September 9, 2016

More than half of the 1,300 women and girls identified as potential victims of sex and labor trafficking in US cantinas and bars were underage, according to a study. (Alamy)

More than 1,000 women and girls have been apparent victims of sex trafficking in illicit bars in the US that operate largely beyond the reach of law enforcement, according to the anti-slavery group Polaris.

Half of the trafficking cases in cantinas – a type of bar popular in Mexico and the American south-west – arose in Houston, Texas, a city near the Mexican border with a large Latino population, said Polaris in a study that tracked calls to its trafficking hotlines from over the past decade.

Cantinas, social gathering spots popular in Latino communities, may disguise the cost of commercial sex in very high drink prices. Women are forced to flirt and drink with patrons, the study’s author, Tessa Couture said.

Cantinas may limit who enters and may not be open to the general public, the report said.

Considered among the best cities to work and live in the US, San Diego also ranks in the FBI’s 13 highest-intensity trafficking areas in the country. (The Guardian)

Hotlines run by Polaris received reports of 201 cases of sex and labour trafficking, involving 1,300 potential victims at cantinas and bars in 20 US states, between 2007 and 2016. More than half the victims were underage, said Polaris.

At one illicit cantina in Houston, some women were forced to have sex as often as 50 times a day, according to the study. The cantina owner, convicted of sex trafficking, conspiracy and other charges, was sentenced to life imprisonment earlier this year.

While cases of trafficking in brothels have been the subject of high-profile prosecutions, only a small number of prosecutions have focused on cantinas, mostly in Houston.

Read the rest at The Guardian

Related: ‘I Carried His Name on My Body for Nine Years’: The Tattooed Trafficking Survivors Reclaiming Their Past (The Guardian)

Related: Some Sex Workers Defy Stigma and the Law by Showing Their Faces. Others Can’t Afford to Take the Risk (Newsweek)
 

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