The evil of the human trafficking business transcends age, country or status. There have been stories of human trafficking victims both from Nigeria and all over the world.
However, the story of Karla Jacinto highlights the brutal realities of human trafficking in Mexico and the United States, an underworld that has destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of Mexican girls
By her own estimate, she was raped 43,200 times after falling into the hands of human traffickers.
Speaking with CNN, Karla says up to 30 men a day, seven days a week, for the best part of four years.
Karla comes from a dysfunctional family, sexually abused and mistreated from the age of 5 by a relative while she felt rejected by her mother.
At the age of 12, she was targeted by a trafficker who lured her away using kind words and a fast car.
Also with the story that he was abused as a child, they exchanged phone numbers and he called a week later, asking that they go on a trip to nearby Puebla while he dazzled her by showing up driving a bright red Firebird Trans Am.
It didn’t take long for the man, who was 10 years older than Karla, to convince her to leave with him, especially after Karla’s mother didn’t open the door one night when she came home a little too late.
“The following day I left with him. I lived with him for three months during which he treated me very well. He loved on me, he bought me clothes, gave me attention, bought me shoes, flowers, chocolates, everything was beautiful,” Karla says.
Meanwhile, Karla’s boyfriend would leave her for a week in their apartment and his cousins would show up with new girls every week.
When she finally mustered the courage to ask what business they were in, he told her they were pimps.
Few days later he started telling her all she had to do; the positions, how much she needs to charge, the things she had to do with the client and for how long, how she was to treat them and how she had to talk to them so that they would give her more money and that was the beginning of four years of hell.
The first time she was forced to work as a prostitute she was taken to one of Mexico’s largest cities.
“I started at 10 a.m. and finished at midnight. We were in Guadalajara for a week. Twenty per day for a week. Some men would laugh at me because I was crying. I had to close my eyes so that that I wouldn’t see what they were doing to me, so that I wouldn’t feel anything,” Karla says.
She was sent to other cities, brothels, roadside motels, streets known for prostitution and even homes. There were no holidays or days off, and after the first few days, she was made to see at least 30 customers a day, seven days a week.
Karla says she was beaten by her trafficker, punched, kicked, pulled by her hair, with spit on her face and also burned with iron.
Her hope was quickly dashed against the wall when one day, when she was working at a hotel known for prostitution and police showed up but the officers took the girls to several rooms and started shooting video of them in compromising positions.
The girls were told the videos would be sent to their families if they didn’t do everything they asked.
“I thought they were disgusting. They knew we were minors. We were not even developed. We had sad faces. There were girls who were only 10 years old. There were girls who were crying. They told the officers they were minors and nobody paid attention,” Karla says. She was 13 years old at the time.
Karla Jacinto was finally rescued in 2008 during an anti-trafficking operation in Mexico City.
Her ordeal lasted four very long and tormenting years. Although a minor (16), when it ended, the horror of the experience will stay with her as long as she lives.
Now 23 years old, Karla has become an outspoken advocate against human trafficking, telling her story at conferences and public events.
Her message is that human trafficking and forced prostitution still happens and is a growing problem in our world.
Karla says, “These minors are being abducted, lured, and yanked away from their families. Don’t just listen to me. You need to learn about what happened to me and take the blindfold off your eyes.”
Watch her interview with CNN here