When a girl in Guatemala’s orphanage was suffering from drug abuse, she became one of the countrys youngest ever female addicts.
But even though she was able to turn her life around, she was still struggling with the same issues that plague so many girls in this country.
In Guatemala, girls and women are victims of domestic violence at the hands of their fathers, and are frequently the victims of human trafficking, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Technology (INTE).
While it is common to hear about women being trafficked in and out of Guatemala, these cases of women being prostituted for sexual exploitation are rare, experts say.
The girl who became one the country’s youngest ever women addicts, Isabella Bautista, was forced to work as a prostitute for a week in 2009 in a remote rural village in Guatemala.
Bautistas mother told her she was going to be a mother when she turned 16, but Bautes addiction to drugs, which had started at the age of 12, kept her from becoming one.
She was forced into prostitution at 14 years old and died in 2012.
“The only reason I was able [to go back] is because of my mother,” said Bautis sister, Isidora Bautistes, during an interview with Human Rights Watch.
“Her life was completely shattered by her addiction, and she was forced out of her home and into the street,” she added.
“She was a child who wanted to be one of us, but she was taken from us.”
According to the UN, around 90,000 children are trafficked into the country each year, and there are no effective measures in place to prevent the abuse of girls.
The situation for children in Guatemala is even worse.
According to the latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), between January and September 2017, about 2,800 children in the country were forcibly disappeared.
In 2017, Guatemala’s government implemented a new law that prohibits the trafficking of children.
However, it has yet to be implemented in a country where there are currently around 300,000 minors in prostitution.
In May 2017, a local NGO, El Liberador, started a program called “El Liberador for Child Trafficking,” which focuses on protecting children from the sexual exploitation and trafficking they face in Guatemala, where the gender imbalance is rampant.
“I want to end this war on girls.
The women are the ones who are the victims, and they should not be the ones to be abused.
The boys have to be protected,” said Guadalupe Carrasco, a co-founder of El Liberador, during the event.
But many women in the community do not have access to the services they need.
The majority of women in Guatemala do not even have access a bank account.
“It is a social problem.
We need money to pay for medicine, for clothes, for food, for everything.
If you need to get anything, you need money,” said Ceballos, adding that women often live in poverty and have limited social supports.
While the government has made efforts to address the issue, the problem persists.
According to INTE, the number of child prostitution cases in Guatemala increased in the first three months of 2018.
The number of girls forced into the sex trade dropped by 37 percent.
In addition, the UN estimates that around 100,000 girls and young women in Colombia are traffipped each year.
And the numbers of girls and girls trafficked each year are even higher in Mexico.
According a UN report published in May, girls are more likely to be victims of sexual violence and are more vulnerable to trafficking because of the gender gap.
“We are seeing the same phenomenon in Mexico as well.
The gender gap is larger than the gap in the sex industry, and it’s worse for girls in Mexico,” said Carrasca.
“I am not saying that the Mexican government does not want to prevent child trafficking.
I am saying that there is an enormous gap between the measures taken in Mexico and those in Guatemala.”
The UN has called on Guatemala to increase efforts to prevent and combat child prostitution, and to provide better support services to children, including child-care and health care, among other initiatives.