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Through long investigations, involving wiretaps and intercepting phone calls, authorities have managed to identify some of the sex traffickers and the modus operandi of these networks. The usual method is that potential clients are approached and offered a catalog bearing the photos of the children, one investigator who asked to remain anonymous told InSight Crime.
However, other girls reported having been coerced by their families. In March , prosecutors dismantled one sex trafficking ring which forcibly recruited girls around the town of Guaduas, 60 kilometers away from La Dorada and the highway, according to judicial sources consulted by InSight Crime. The girls are now fighting back. An increasing number of them are filing complaints with authorities with the assistance of organizations such as Todas con las Mujeres.
Colombia is known as a destination for child sex trafficking. More than cases of child sexual exploitation were filed with authorities every month between January and July And the figure is rising, with the number of reported cases having tripled in the last five years. Yet the conviction rate has been abysmal. Of 85, investigations into claims of child sex abuse between and , only 6, ended in a conviction.
Access to justice has historically been limited for the victims of child sex trafficking, who often do not file complaints. Authorities say that this has meant they do not have a full understanding of how many children have been abused in the country. The girls also refrain from speaking out for fear criminal gangs will target their families in retaliation, he explained.
This vulnerability has also seen many girls seek protection from different criminal groups or abusers, who may pledge more protection or only a certain type of client.