By Mark Murray
Guyana has found itself under the microscope of the United States when it comes to sex trafficking and forced labour. Coming out of the 2016 US Trafficking in Person report, Guyana remains a source and destination country for persons subjected to such illegal activities.
During a visit to Region Seven over the weekend, it was observed that recruiters are now looking to use more non-nationals to attract customers to their business, even if it means selling the girls for sex.
While there are a few locals, women are being sourced in countries like Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Columbia, and Venezuela.
With the promise of a high paying job to provide domestic services or to sell at shops where miners frequent to pass-time, the women are sometimes tricked into the sex trade in mining communities in the interior and urban areas.
News Room visited an area in Region Seven called Takatu where it is reported that foreign nationals are “the new ladies of the night.”
A 29-year-old Colombian woman said she only came to Guyana because things are better here compared to back home in her country. She said she started living in Georgetown and eventually found her way into the mining district recently after her 5-year visa was up, awaiting approval for an extension which she had applied for.
“Three months me went Georgetown, now me come hay. Buh me leff me passport, asking extension.”
A man who calls himself the caretaker of a nearby shop where the Colombian woman is staying told this Newscast that he would usually borrow girls to attract male customers from a known trafficker.
“Me nah hire them girl. Me just ask fo borrow them girl, me nah hire girl. Me ask Junior fo borrow them girl because he bring in all them girl…he own them. Seven them come and they gone back, three or four supposed to come this afternoon.”
Giving conflicting stories about his role in what the women usually do at the shop, the man made it known that he does not have to pay them.
Two hours from Takatu, located at the Puruni landing is said to be a known ‘recruiter’ of girls. The man manages just about 20 of them.
The team which comprised Junior Minister of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes was, however, unable to meet the ‘recruiter’ since he was tipped off that the team was headed into the area.
Reports suggest that women were hidden long before the team got to the location since it was only the businessman ‘Junior’ and his male employees on the premises.
Just last year ‘Junior’ was arrested after the now Minister Broomes, and a team from her organisation, the Guyana Women Miners Organisation along with the police conducted a raid at the Platinum Bar in Bartica.
It was during that search that some 27 non-nationals suspected of being trafficked were rescued, most of whom later turned out to have expired documents.
The US TIP report highlighted that while both sex trafficking and forced labour occur in interior mining communities, a limited government presence in the country’s interior reduces the full extent of trafficking which remains unknown.