Smriti Iyer

Smriti Iyer

MPA/ID 2020 BIG Fellows 2019-20 SYPA: Dismantling Sexual Trafficking in Peru; The Case of Madre de Dios

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SYPA: Dismantling Sexual Trafficking in Peru; The Case of Madre de Dios.

It violates fundamental human rights and efforts to combat this are anemic at best. The question this SYPA tries to address is what disincentives can policy create to inhibit sex trafficking market in Peru, especially for underage girls. In South America, Peru has the distinction of having the worst rate of child trafficking.

We diagnose and analyze the problem of sex trafficking by zooming in on the supply side of the sex trafficking market in Madre De Dios. Madre de Dios has the highest incidence of human trafficking in Peru i.e. 100 victims for every 100,000 people. 50% of the cases are linked to sexual exploitation. Calculations from Capital Humano Social (CHS) Alternativo indicate that the region has 4,500 victims exploited in 420 brothels. We create a framework to model the expected utility that determines the constrained decisions that underage girls take and test our hypothesis with quantitative and qualitative analysis. Due to the poor quality of data we build our framework primarily through the literature review and interviews and supplement this with data from police reports. We find there is limited uniformity in why underage girls take the decision to leave their community and thus the idea that one intervention may be effective is limited.

Our analysis uncovers that characteristics such as extreme poverty, lack of information, taboos related to discussing sex trafficking in the community, violence, lack of economic opportunity and a need to take on a short-term loss for long-term gain drives decisions in communities. In some cases, all these characteristics apply while in others, one characteristic alone explains the decision-making process. We propose a two-part intervention strategy. The first part involves identifying which characteristics are more prevalent in the community, based on which we propose four different interventions. The solutions include (i) Targeted Information Campaigns, (ii) creating a Mobile Application, (iii) Community Driven Development and (iv) Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) for Skill Training