Research shows that Peru is a country where women have made great strides and the economy is booming. So why is 10×10 in Peru? And where are we looking for stories about the challenges girls face in pursuit of an education? 10×10 Producer Martha Adams tells us from the field:
We have come across powerful stories where marginalized communities work illegal mines without sewer systems, schools, health workers, police, or clean water. Girls are trafficked in as sex slaves, held captive under plastic tarps, and told to work 22 hours each day, maybe sleeping Monday or Sundays when there are no customers.
We could not photograph or film much of this world. We snuck in on the backs of motorbikes. Just two nights ago, I walked into the community with an NGO worker, emptying my pockets of any valuables, and doing my best to not look like a “gringa.”
Infested river water, filled with feces and pollutants, flooded the road that joined countless brothels—each one constructed out of tarps like the bright blue Ikea bags. Girls holding newborn babies stood in front of speakers blasting salsa music. The hum of generators made my head feel like its was going to split in half. Toddlers, sitting in the waste and the dark, pushed Tonka toy knock-offs up and over the mud crevices. Drunk miners stumbled past. We got deep inside the town to suddenly realize that the river is rising and no one wants me on the back of their motorbike. We either have to wade through disease-infested waters or wait it out.
This is a world where everyone suffers. But girls get it the worst. Seen as unlucky, they are barred from the mines and are relegated to working with shards of rock where there is the most exposure to mercury. Or they serve the men as waitresses and sex workers. The men live a short, harsh life. And consequently, they play hard, opting to go to the cantinas rather than home to their wives. Domestic violence here is the norm.
10×10 imagines a world where girls are safe from trafficking and bonded labor; where girls have an equal opportunity to lead healthy, productive lives. We are telling stories of extraordinary girls overcoming unimaginable odds to demonstrate the value of education and empowering girls worldwide. Join us in changing the world. Learn more about the realities of child trafficking and take action with one of our NGO partners, World Vision, by supporting the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.