CARTAGENA, Colombia – This tourist jewel on Colombia’s Caribbean coast has seen an alarming growth in the sex trade in recent years and authorities say they are determined to do something about it.
Cartagena should not be known as a destination for sex tourism, the governor of the surrounding province of Bolivia, Dumek Turbay, said, denouncing the exploitation that accompanies the trade.
Instead, he said, Cartagena should strive to become “the world’s model city” in combating sexual exploitation.
Sex workers have long plied their trade in some of the city’s most-frequented spots, but the issue came to the fore on July 29, when the Attorney General’s Office announced the arrest of 18 suspects, including Liliana del Carmen Campos Puello, a.k.a. “La Madame,” on charges they lured women, some of them underage, into going abroad for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
The image of Campos, smiling and unabashed, giving the middle finger to reporters and onlookers when she arrived at court made an impression with Colombians as an example of the sense of impunity felt by responsible for the exploitation.
Turbay said that the Colombian AG’s Office is committed “to fight against all the links in this chain,” including visitors who come to Cartagena looking for prostitutes.
“Neither will we allow the emblematic and historic sites of the city to be taken over by the sex trade,” the governor said.