It started when she was 12: 16-year-old was raped 43,200 times
Karla Jacinto was an innocent 12-year-old when she thought she had found the love of her life. The older man promised to lay the world at her feet, that she would be his princess, his one and only. By eloping with him, she believed she could escape the poverty of her parents' house and the few prospects her small home town offered. It was the biggest mistake of her life.
The man — who in the girl's eyes had been her dream man — turned out to be a pimp. He traded in young girls like Karla. He told Karla that, from this moment on, she had to sell herself on the street for him. He beat her brutally, spat in her face, and even burned her with an iron. He took the 12-year-old to his home town, Tenancingo in Mexico — known as the sex-trafficking capital of the world — and sold her. She was in a state of deep, mental shock.
From 10:00 a.m. until midnight everyday, Karla had to service johns for four years. She had to have at least 30 "customers" a day and keep a tally of them. The men had a twisted method to stop Karla running away. They made it unmistakably clear to her: there's no one you can go to. Karla could see this from the clients that were deliberately sent to her — uniformed police officers, priests, politicians. She couldn't run to anyone, even if she wanted to.
When she was 16, Karla's ordeal finally came to an end — she was freed by a volunteer organization. She made a disturbing calculation. In the four years up to her rescue, she was made to have sex more than 43,200 times, an unimaginable and chilling number. But in that time, the girl had become a young woman and she wasn't going to give up.
Karla works with her rescuers. Everyday, she fights against the enormously powerful system that makes young girls and women into slaves. And this work puts her life in danger on a daily basis. Karla, who is now 23, says, "When I wake up in the morning, I don't know if I will live until the evening. Death lurks around the next corner, because I do what I do."
Karla and her colleagues rescue ever more and ever younger girls and boys from the clutches of pimps, because the business is booming. The police in Tenancingo, where the majority of Mexico's pimps come from, deliberately look away. Like the local politicians, they too are involved in this business. That's what makes Karla's job so dangerous.
You find out more about Karla's story in this video (in Spanish)...
It's difficult to read about what happened to Karla and her story is deeply troubling. But unfortunately, it's not a unique case. More than two million children worldwide are in the situation that she was stuck in for four years. This has to stop.