LA PAZ – Bolivian authorities are working to reduce the trafficking of minors for purposes of sexual exploitation, a representative of the national ombud’s office said on Friday.
“Bolivia is one of the five South American countries with the most cases of human trafficking,” Teresa Zubieta told reporters, citing a report from the Organization of American States.
“In recent years it (human trafficking) has gone up 92.2 percent,” she said, adding that 70 percent of the victims were between the ages of 12 and 22.
Data from La Paz province, one of Bolivia’s most-populous regions, show a 60 percent increase in the number of reported cases, Zubieta said.
The ombud’s office shared the results of a prevention program that reached 15,000 students in the last two weeks with the aim of raising awareness about human trafficking.
Bolivian authorities receive an average of eight reports per day about children and adolescents who have disappeared and only a quarter of missing youngsters are found, Sen. Giovanni Carlo said.
Speaking at a forum in La Paz, the deputy minister for public safety, Wilfredo Chavez, said that the incidence of child trafficking in Bolivia is “much lower than other countries.”
Chavez emphasized the need for more precise data to understand the magnitude of the problem.