Slim, blonde, long-haired, starving. This is how Alika Kinan arrived in Ushuaia. It was 1995. She was 18, almost 19. She was desperate to send some money to her younger sister, who had stayed in Córdoba, at a friend's house. At the airport, Pedro Montoya and Claudia Quiroga were waiting to take her to the Sheikh, the brothel where she would be sexually exploited for 16 years.
The first thing they did was go with her to the provincial police of Tierra del Fuego, where they made an opening file and asked for all their personal data. “They wanted to see that I had no criminal record: that nobody was looking for me,” says Alika. Then, to the Municipality of Ushuaia, to manage the health book. In a private laboratory, they took blood and made a vaginal exudate. At the hospital, they signed his notebook. “Everyone knew everything,” he says. That same day, the police and the municipal officers were in the brothel “to test” the newcomer. The Sheik boasted of having the “best quality” girls.
Fall on the net
Alika had arrived from Cruz del Eje to Córdoba, 18 years old: she left the last year of high school and went to look for work. Dalma, a girl he met distributing street advertising, offered to go south to the opening of a bowling alley:
– You fill yourself with silver, you dance, you fuck.
Alika did not ask questions. After three days, he had a plane ticket in his name.
“I talked on the phone with Claudia Quiroga, the brothel partner. She asked me how she was physically,” Alika recalls. “Dalma was the one who recruited me: a poor girl, like me, with re-ill parents. The prize that must have been taken because I was pretty and young, must have been staying for some time, minimum, with a percentage of what I won. “
When he arrived at Sheikh, Alika had nothing to wear. “I had a poverty on top. I remember there was a box of old shoes and I looked there for a pair,” he says.
In those years, Tierra del Fuego was the land of brothels: Roxana, Sonia, El Sheik, Black and White, Tropicana, Candilejas, were just some of the names of the clubs where the supply of women and drugs attracted dozens of Men by night.
Out of the well
“I am not a victim of anything. I love Pedro and Claudia,” was the first thing Alika said to Maria Hermida, the prosecutor, after the dawn of October 9, 2012, when Gendarmerie broke into the Sheikh. The first trafficking law was in force since 2008, but she did not know it. “Sit down, have some tea,” Hermida told him. He took two and declared more than four hours.
The prosecutor asked him about his childhood, his family, how he had come to the south. Alika told her that her mother and aunts had been prostitutes, that at 14 they had raped her and that no one had believed her; that she had gone hungry, that her parents had abandoned her and her sister to her fate.
Putting his story into words was the first step. “Recognizing myself as a victim of trafficking was a very long process. Not everyone can do it. It involves reviewing your whole being, confronting your own demons. It is a very big barrier that we have the victims: recognizing that what happened to us is not right, that took advantage of us, “says Alika.
In 2016, in a historic ruling, the Federal Oral Criminal Court of Tierra del Fuego sentenced Pedro Montoya to seven years in prison for the crime of trafficking aggravated by the plurality of victims. In addition, he recognized the civil responsibility of the Municipality of Ushuaia as a necessary participant in the existence of the network, having to compensate Alika with 780,000 pesos. In 2018, the convictions were confirmed by the Federal Criminal Cassation Chamber. For the first time, the Argentine State was considered an accomplice for the crime of trafficking in persons.
Today, Alika lives in Buenos Aires with Alfredo, her partner, and her six sons and daughters. She is the director of the Study, Training and Research Program on Trafficking in Persons of the National University of San Martín (Unsam). Feminist, activist and abolitionist, for her prostitution is not a job: they are paid violations. Women victims of trafficking are conditioned by their situation of extreme vulnerability, to which their exploiters extract the juice. “When there is autonomy in prostitution, if what you are doing is guaranteeing an ancestral privilege of the male over the woman?” Alika asks.
For her, the main challenge to accompany the victims is that there is an articulated work between municipality, province and Nation: “There has to be a strengthening program not only economically, but also therapeutically. The victims are anesthetized with the pain and suffering and you have to get them out of there. “
He did not become an activist overnight. “I met him when I started to claim for my rights. I said: 'What they did with me, they are doing with others,'” Alika says. “In addition, I had a great need to feel accompanied by women who had gone through what I went through. I have the gift of being able to speak, to explain clearly what I lived. I thought: 'If they cannot, how can I not speak for they?'”.
On September 3, at 9, the Study, Training and Research Program on Trafficking in Persons of the National University of San Martín (Unsam) will hold a symposium on what is exploitation, open to the public and free. In addition, on November 21 and 22, there will be an international conference on trafficking, for which they invite those who want to join as sponsors. More information in:
Where to ask for help
On line 145 you can request information, assistance and report all types of cases of trafficking in persons; It works 24 hours a day, all over the country and is anonymous.