Marita Veron and the sex trade in Argentina
Marita Verón (María de los Ángeles) was kidnapped in front of her house in Tucumán Province on April 3, 2002. She was 23. Ten years have passed and they still have not found her. Her mother Susana Trimarco, the main force behind her investigation, believes she is still alive. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the trial of 13 people for alleged involvement in sex trafficking in Tucumán Province.
María Jesús Rivero, one of the women on trial, is suspected of giving the order, as she was the owner of the taxi service Cinco Estrellas (Five Stars), which provided the car to kidnap Marita. Marita was allegedly transported under the eye of Daniela Milhein. Both women are ex-wives of Rubén “ La Chancha” Ale, the ex-president of the soccer club Club San Martín de Tucumán. She was then transported to La Rioja Province, where she was forced to prostitute herself through the prostíbulos of Lidia Irma “Liliana” Medina, the “grand madame” of the Province. Then she disappeared without a trace.
The investigation pointed to Córdoba Province as a potential place of her death. However, the police have yet to find a body. After the disappearance of her daughter, Trimarco founded the Foundation María de los Ángeles, an NGO that fights against sex trafficking in Argentina. The Foundation educates the public on the issue, provides a physical space for women who were forced into sex trafficking, and provides legal guidance, among other services. Since its foundation, the NGO is known to have saved 129 victims from sex trade.
While prepping for this post, I tried to find some information on sex trafficking in Argentina. But I couldn’t find anything concrete and up-to-date. Most sex trafficking occurs in Eastern Europe and South Asia. While many women are kidnapped and transported to different countries in these aforementioned cases (from Asia to the US for example), in Argentina, many are kidnapped and forced in the domestic market. Also many women from the countries along the border of Argentina, especially Paraguay, are victims of sex trafficking in Argentina.
I feel like even the visibility of sex trafficking in Argentina is very different from the US. I remember when doing research on sex trade in the US, people told me that many women were kept captive in “any place with a bed,” for example, massage parlors. But here the women you see in the pictures of the tiny pieces of paper that are stuck to the bus stop are the victims. They are parts of a service with registered phone numbers that only offer that service. May be I was blind in the US, but it would be nice to have a stronger network of organizations against sex trafficking (and with more concrete numbers) in Argentina, even if it is a smaller market in relative terms.