We have wondered for awhile what sex trafficking looks like in this country, and even more, what it would look like in our area. We don’t see many signs of it. We don’t have random men coming into our town. We are so rural would our area even attract this kind of thing. Just getting here is so difficult. Prostitution is legal in the country of Guatemala and so the line between prostitution and sex trafficking becomes a thin line to skate.
Today though I think our fear for this area was confirmed. We know there are houses of prostitution in town. There are bars and places for girls to “work”. Not what you would see in movies, but none the less, an enslavement. We rarely see girls that we suspect, and even less in our clinic. But as I lined up women today for ultra sounds, one young girl stood out – in part how she dressed, in part how she walked. She hobbled in as if she had been injured. Her eyes were dark with circles. She sat down as if this was the last place that she wanted to be. Temperatures here have dropped into the forties. I could see my breath it was so cold. And yet this girl who had legs as spindly as heron was dressed in a short, short black miniskirt and blouse. Just looking at her made me cold, and it was obvious that something was wrong.
As she waited she stared out of glassy eyes and shivered. Her attempt to keep warm was to take the 18 inch long piece of fabric she had around her shoulders and cover her legs. Her story aligned itself with our fears, she is from the city and working here for a year. Her ten month old baby is in the city with her mom, and yes she was pregnant. Three months pregnant. She works in town at the cantina, the place we believe to use these prostitutes. She infact had been beaten by men this week which would explain her limp. She had come because she had been told she needed an ultrasound by the government clinic. No emotion came out of her as we confirmed her pregnancy, only to say she thought she had more than three months.
When asked if she would come back, she only said that she was told to come here for the ultrasound. We cannot force her to do anything. We are only foreigners. What hope is there for her? How can we reach her? How can we help her? We know our responsibility is to do what we can with what we have. Yet what she is doing is not illegal. Our hope is that she does return. Our hope is that we can help her. Our hope is that she doesn’t remain the broken skeleton that came to our doorstep this morning. My heart’s cry is to be able to help girls like her see that it can be different. Will you stand with us in hope that she will return?