Friday, March 20, 2009

Sex for Food in Buenos Aires


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The financial crisis touches us all in different ways. Job losses, mounting personal debts and cancelled holidays are all part of the reality for the year ahead.

For Argentina's poor, the reality is even starker. Kids busking at red lights or juggling on the metro is common enough. People going through the rubbish (known as 'cartoneros') has also become a part of daily life since the country's own, private financial implosion at the end of 2001.

Statistics published recently suggested poverty figures had crept back up to the levels they were just before the last crisis: i.e. around 11.8 million people (around 32% of the population).

Numbers are easy to ignore though. Less simple to pass over is a news item that I saw in the local La Nacion newspaper today. Apparently, children as young as eight years old are prostituting themselves for food.

The case involves up to 200 children between eight and thirteen years old, who sell themselves for sex in Buenos Aires' Central Market. In exchange, their clients (other shoppers) provide them with something to eat.

SofĂ­a Kordecki, who's responsible for child rights for the local municipality, admits that the problem is difficult to contain.

It's harder still without the cooperation of the unions operating in the market. "They won't admit the need to work with consumers [in the market]", she says.

"What's clear is that the children won't prostitute themselves if there are no clients", she adds.


McClarinJ said...

Would we rather have no sex-for-food or have children starve? It is a thorny question. Cada sendero produce victimas.

Stephanie in AR said...

Ferfal, I've been reading your site since I found a link to your story on a message board. (Just don't comment much) You've really given a lot of good advice & things to think over. I followed another link & was wondering if someone had condensed your story for another site because it sure sounds like you. The page is:

You had mentioned others plagerising your story & it seems it may have happened again. Sure hope not.

Thanks for all your efforts.

Anonymous said...

Regrettably, sex is the only currency some people feel they have to trade with, and it is one thing that almost always sells. I imagine it is difficult not to consider all options when one is starving.
In such a situation, were I approached with such an offer, I'd just give the kid the money without the act. But then, I try not to make the world a worse place than it already is.

Christopher Newgent said...

Don't get me wrong, child prostitution is horrible. But Argentina has had starving children for sometime now. That was how you knew that the 2001 crisis was about to hit.

McClarinJ was right, would they really rather have the children starve?

If there were no clients then yes the children would not prostitute themselves, if they had food they wouldn't prostitute themselves either. And if the gov't wasn't so corrupt maybe the children's parents could make a decent wage and then they could go to school, learn, eat, AND NOT PROSTITUTE THEMSELVES.

But they will probably pass more useless laws in a place where over half of the cops can't even read the law they enforce.