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Peruvian police rescue hundreds of sex slaves

Police raid a "prostibar" in Puerto Maldonado

Peruvian National Police forces rescued almost three hundred women and girls from forced sexual exploitation this weekend in the jungle town of Puerto Maldonado and nearby locations, according to that nation’s Interior Ministry.

Vice Minister for Internal Order Luis Otarola, who supervised the rescue, said that the liberated women included ten minors, one of whom was only thirteen.  He said the operation was ordered by Interior Minister Oscar Valdes as part of President Ollanta Humala’s campaign to improve citizen security and protect human rights.

Otarola claimed that the women were forced to provide sexual favors against their will in over 50 clandestine night spots, an illegal business which has been expanding along with the growth in small-scale mining in the area.

The police also rescued five children who were worked into the early morning at the nocturnal clubs, as well as four people involved in trafficking the victims.

Last September international charity Save the Children denounced the sexual exploitation of over 1,100 underage girls at illegal mining camps in the Madre de Dios region of southeastern Peru.  As gold prices have increased,  so has illegal mining and the growth of business catering to miners.  Girls are often recruited by women who travel to their communities offering jobs in retail or domestic labor, but then force them to work in bars doing something else entirely.

Otarola said that the sweep also confiscated almost 95,000 board feet of lumber from illegal logging operations.  The 440 agents involved included 150 from Lima and 100 from Cuzco.