Peru sex slavery: Police free 300 women in Amazon
- 4 October 2011
- From the section Latin America & Caribbean
Police in Peru say they have rescued nearly 300 women from sexual exploitation in a raid in the country's Amazon region.
At least four people were arrested in Puerto Maldonado on suspicion of human trafficking.
Among those rescued from about 50 brothels were at least 10 minors - the youngest was a 13-year-old girl.
More than 400 police took part in the three-day operation in the region, known for its illegal gold mining.
The region has seen an influx of fortune-hunters trying to make a living from the trade.
Prosecutors say young girls are lured to the area by women who travel around offering them jobs in shops or as domestic helpers, but that the girls often end up being forced to work as prostitutes in local bars.
Last month, the charity Save the Children said that more than 1,100 underage girls were being used as sexual slaves in illegal mining camps in the south-eastern Peruvian state of Madre de Dios.
Camps set up along the main highway have also attracted unlicensed bars used for prostitution.
The gold rush is contributing to the destruction of the rain forest and contaminating the environment with tons of mercury, used in processing the precious metal.
Peru is the world's fifth largest gold producer.