Argentina: Alika Kinan, from victim to denouncer of a trafficking network

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Source: Notas.org.ar / The Dawn News / November 3, 2016.
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Alika is 40 years old and is the head of Sapa Kippa, an NGO that fights for women’s rights in Ushuaia, capital city of Tierra del Fuego, Southern Argentina. Until 2012, Alika was victim of sexual exploitation by a human trafficking network that is now being tried. It’s the first time that the victim appears as complainant in this kind of case in Argentina, where prostitution is illegal.

When she was released from the brothel Alika didn’t think of herself as a victim of human trafficking. It took her time and much reflection to realize that it was not her will that was leading her to the pimps and the “clients” of the “service” she provided first in the province of Cordoba and then in Tierra del Fuego, offered exhausting days of work, along with blows, drugs and all kind of violence.

“The moment I understood that I was repeating the history of other women in my family was the moment I saw myself as a victim. From then on, I began to rebuild myself. I had internalized my pimp’s speech. But when María, the secretary of the Prosecutor’s office asked me how I had ended up there I realized it”, Alika said to the now closed news portal Infojus Noticias, on December 2015. “There are times of deep pain where a woman doesn’t want to recognize herself as a victim, she is ashamed, she is in pan. What woman would like to be recognized as a victim?”, she added.

On April 2015, she said to newspaper Página/12 that it had taken her “several years to be able to talk about this”. “I didn’t understand the nature of the crime and I refused to consider myself a victim of human trafficking. I saw myself as a strong woman who had arrived there because she had no other option, which is an idea promoted by human traffickers, because they make you believe that once you enter the network”, she affirmed.

From that moment on, after 20 years of being forced to be a prostitute by different pimps and breaking away from her familiy history (mothers, aunts grandmothers who were sexualy exploited and a father who was client and a pimp) Alika met the women’s movements and created the NGO, Sapa Kippa (in the language of indigenous Ona and Yámana people it means “woman’s blood”). She is a feminist and she defends abolitionism to fight against sexual exploitation. “I believe every woman in her right mind, with a decent job, housing and health care, would never give up that stability to be with someone who sullies her body. We can’t unionize a crime”.

“I don’t want my daughters to suffer what I have suffered”, she says in a documentary called “Cuerpo a Cuerpo”, which narrates the emblematic case of Marita Verón, her mother’s’ struggle to find her after she was kidnapped and addresses the issue of human trafficking in Argentina.

 

Trial and threats

Alika, one of the seven victims of the human trafficking crime that were rescued from the same brothel is, at the same time, complainant against her pimps.

Pedro Montoya and Ivana García, owners of the Sheik brothel, which was officially a “dance club”, and Lucy Alberca Campos, the administrator of the place, are being accused. Journalist Natalia Caso told Notas.org.ar that there “is much expectation” regarding the information that might come up during the trial. And there’s also “fear”, she adds, “not only of the accused but of the State itself”. “The state allowed the existence of these places, there were inspections, there were commercial permits granted”.

Both Montoya and García are currently free. Alberca was detained for drug trafficking 15 days ago. She was found at the Sheik with 7 million pesos.  

Coincidentally, a week before the legal process began, Miguel Pascual, Alika’s ex-husband and pimp began to criticize her on the media from Scotland, where he livesto try to delegitimize her words and attack her image.

Alika met Pascual at a local pub “Black & White” —which is also under trial for human trafficking since 2015— in 1996, as a client who soon became her husband. He used to pay extra to the pimps to allow him spend time with her, but Alika didn’t know that. “I went to live with him and his family in Spain. There, I found myself in a situation where violence was normal. He started hitting me and then she started hitting our oldest daughter, who was 8. That’s when I decided to escape and I went back to Ushuaia with the pimps, who welcomed me with open arms”, she explained.   

Pascual decided to give his testimony against Alika, via videoconference. He maintained she was willingly exercising prostitution. “He wants to create confusion over the case”, said Natalia Caso.

“Alika has been receiving threats. On the street they approached her and told her to watch her words in the trial. She also received attacks on social media. Evidently, there are many people that fear their names coming up in the trial”, affirmed to newspaper Clarín.com Marcelo Colombo, head of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prosecutor (PROTEX).

The instruction of the case was in charge of judge Juan Arturo Soria and judge Adrián García will intervene in the oral debate with the collaboration of PROTEX, according to Notas.org.ar

Ushuaia, port and prostitution

“Ushuaia has an important port and naval base, historically it has been a province where prostitutes were brought to the tenets, militaries and to the police. All of them were accomplices. Nowadays, international cruises and fishing boats come every day”, Alika told Pagina/12. “Thousands of people land here, exploitation is a common practice and it counts on the complicity of the local government, among others”.

“The staff of the Russian and North American cruises that arrive at the port is usually from the Philippines, they are cheap workforce who get paid in dollars, and that means a great profit for pimps”, she said. From 8 pm to the following morning, women are “at the service of the clients”. “Brothels are forbidden, but nobody controls their operation. Doors are open to prostitution. Women are usually under the influence of drugs, and they don’t know they are being kidnapped”, Alika recounted.

Caso, the journalist interviewed by notas.org.ar said that after the raids that were carried out in Ushuaia many women left to continue working as prostitutes. Punta Arenas, a city in Chile, was the destination chosen by most of them.

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