Judges in Tierra del Fuego province have condemned local brothel owner Pedro Montoya to seven years of prison after finding him guilty of human trafficking in a historic trial for Argentina.
One of the women they held, Alika Kinan Sánchez, brought the case against her former captors, the first time a victim of human trafficking has acted as plaintiff against the people who forced her into prostitution.
Montoya’s two accomplices, Ivana García and Lucy Alberca Campos, were also given suspended prison sentences of three years. The judges also declared that the Municipality of Ushuaia will be forced to compensate Kinan $780,000.
Montoya was the owner of a brothel in Ushuaia called “Sheik”, and was found guilty of sexually exploiting at least eight women between 21 and 28 years of age. García is his wife and must also pay a fine of $30,000 whereas Campos, a Peruvian woman who ran the brothel, was only given the suspended prison sentence.
Alika Kinan was rescued from the brothel in October 2012 by Protex (Procurator of Trafficking and Exploitation of People) when she was 36 years old. Protex had started investigating the venue after a trafficking victim in Tucumán had reported being forced into prostitution there.
During the trial, Kinan testified that she had been abandoned by her parents when she was 16 years old and moved to Ushuaia when she was 18 in 1996. She says her captors gave her the “false image of family” which she never had. She recalled that they ensure that “no one would open my eyes [to what was really happening], so that I would continue to be productive, they instilled habits of cleanliness, order and punctuality in me so that I would be shaped for the brothel’s clients.”
Kinan said that she was presented to the local police to get a DNI and to see whether she could be a “good prostitute without a criminal record.” She said she survived this and “daily gropings, fights, beatings and blood, lots of blood, marks on my face and other parts of my body.”
On hearing the judges’ verdict on Wednesday, Kinan embraced various members of social feminist organisations who supported her and she said: “now we are going to go after the pimps in the whole country.”
She also sent a message to all those who are in conditions of slavery and sexual exploitation. “Everyone can. Even those who today are not recognised as victims, and those who stigmatised me. If I can, then everyone else can too.”