Human Trafficking in Paraguay
In the last few decades, human trafficking has become rampant in many Latin American countries. Landlocked by Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil, Paraguay finds itself grappling with this issue, putting many of its citizens at risk of becoming victims of trafficking. For the year 2021, the U.S. State Department ranks Paraguay at Tier 2 in regard to the nation’s handling of human trafficking. This ranking means that Paraguay does not meet the minimum requirements for combating trafficking as outlined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 but “is making significant efforts to do so.”

Victims of Trafficking in Paraguay

According to the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) of 2021, men, women and children are all susceptible to human trafficking in Paraguay. However, the most prevalent and concerning act of human trafficking in Paraguay involves the exploitation of children under a practice called “criadazgo,” which entails the exploitive labor of children as domestic workers.

A child, usually from an impoverished family, provides domestic work to middle and high-class families in exchange for “varying compensation that includes room, board, money, a small stipend or access to educational opportunities.” Estimates indicate that about 47,000 Paraguayan children work under this practice, often girls. However, this practice is a form of exploitation “similar to slavery.” In fact, many victims of criadazgo experience physical abuse and sexual abuse. Although officially outlawed in Paraguay due to child rights violations, the practice continues.

Barriers to Combating Human Trafficking in Paraguay

Law enforcement officials are often complicit in human trafficking crimes. Allegations include accepting bribes to overlook acts of trafficking in “massage parlors and brothels” and “issuing passports for Paraguayan trafficking victims exploited abroad.” According to the TIP, Paraguay’s national law against human trafficking does not “align with international law.” Furthermore, the official anti-trafficking unit lacks the resources to operate effectively. Considering the significant number of trafficking victims in Paraguay,  the nation does not have adequate services and infrastructure in place to adequately serve victims.

The Good News

Paraguay developed the Ministry of Adolescents and Children (MINNA), which “maintains a unit dedicated to fighting child trafficking and a hotline to report cases of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children.” This unit also offers “social services” to child victims of trafficking.

MINNA created Program Abrazo (Embrace Program) in 2005 to aid children within exploitative child labor by supplying the children and their family members “with health and education services, food deliveries and cash transfers conditioned on children’s school attendance and withdrawal from work.” In 2020, MINNA collaborated with “local institutions” to “open new Embrace Program attention centers for street children and to strengthen services at existing centers.”

In 2017, Paraguay created a child trafficking awareness initiative to reduce “child commercial sexual exploitation” within the tourism industry. The initiative made use of flyers, banners and stickers “at hotels, airports and places of mass circulation” in Ciudad del Este, the second-largest city in Paraguay, as well as the Paraguay border area.

Looking Ahead

These efforts are placing the country on the right path for Tier 1 categorization as a fully compliant nation. It is important to raise awareness of human trafficking to help eliminate it. Human trafficking can put any one of the 7.6 million people residing in Paraguay at risk. Most importantly, the vulnerable population, such as children and impoverished people, face this risk at a higher proportion than anyone else. Through continued efforts to combat human trafficking in Paraguay, the government can safeguard the well-being of vulnerable Paraguayans.

– Kler Teran
Photo: Unsplash

Poverty Reduction in MoldovaMoldova has faced many challenges in the past few years. Finding itself as a landlocked country with a relatively smaller population of fewer than four million people, the agriculture and food-based economy had a GDP of less than $8 million as of 2014. Some ways the country can improve its position on a global scale would be by improving the quality of life of its people. These improvements include advancing health services in hospitals as well as advancing education among citizens. Several programs target poverty reduction in Moldova, aiming to improve the lives of the most vulnerable citizens.

The Recent History of Moldova

Moldova suffers greatly from corruption among government officials, ranking in the 20th percentile for Control of Corruption according to the Worldwide Governance Indicators of 2015. Even though there was an increase in workplace competitiveness during the banking crisis of 2014, there was also an increase in political instability.

Before the banking crisis of 2014, there was a large decrease in extreme poverty in Moldova, lowering from 7% in 2011 to 3.1% by 2013. The reduction in poverty creates a higher need for shared prosperity that helps a larger portion of the population rather than just a small number of citizens. By aligning its principles with EU regulations, Moldova raised the country’s competitiveness in the market, increasing economic activity and helping greatly with poverty reduction in Moldova.

In agriculture, more than 1,000 businesses started up with the help of around $30 million allocated to rural businesses, which created more than 5,000 jobs. The funds allocated to Moldova also helped to increase preparedness among farmers against droughts and other weather risks.

Addressing the Needs of Children

Poverty disproportionately affects Moldova’s children as they are often located in rural areas in some of the most impoverished regions. Roughly 80% of impoverished families with children live in rural areas, and with each added child, the rate of household poverty increases. For instance, families with more than two children struggle most financially. Children growing up in poverty have less access to healthcare and education, which impacts their lives as adults. Without proper aid or assistance, children will continue cycles of poverty, leading to a country that is unable to prosper.

Organizations Assisting Moldova

There are a number of organizations and programs working inside the country to help with poverty reduction in Moldova. These organizations work with children, those struggling with mental illness, homeless people and many others. One organization, Way to Success, implements a two-year program to empower young people between 16 and 21 with important life and professional skills. The skills help the youth become self-sustainable, contributing to poverty reduction in Moldova. The organization teaches these young adults how to identify the needs of local communities and how to provide those communities with proper care and aid.

Another program to highlight is the Metamorphosis Program. This program’s objective is to rehabilitate and help young adults and teenagers who have suffered the effects of poverty and abuse. The program largely focuses on breaking the cycles of poverty with plans that grow ideas of resilience. Programs targeting young adults and teenagers greatly increase poverty reduction in Moldova, allowing for more prosperity in the country.

Moldova has many programs available to assist with poverty reduction. With programs targeting children, competitiveness in the economy and political instability, poverty reduction in Moldova is on the increase.

– Jake Herbetko
Photo: Flickr