The BBC News has on its web site a disturbing article about sex trafficking in El Salvador.
San Salvador is a noisy, busy city overlooked by a spectacular volcano. The streets are crowded with bars, in many sex is for sale.You can read about the rest of Milagros' story in this article.
I accompanied Sgt Jose Noe Ayala on a drive around the city to see the places where police have discovered trafficked women and children. In one of the upmarket areas of the city, he pointed out a non-descript building, this was where Milagros was held.
"We rescued four girls that day," he tells me. "Three were teenagers under the age of 18, all Salvadorians. And then there was Milagros, from Nicaragua."
The US State Department 2007 report on human trafficking described the situation in El Salvador in this way:
El Salvador is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Salvadorans are trafficked to Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States. Salvadoran women and girls are also trafficked internally from rural to urban areas of the country. The majority of foreign victims trafficked to El Salvador are women and children from Nicaragua and Honduras trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation.
The Government of El Salvador does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government took steps to improve victim assistance, and demonstrated more vigorous and better coordinated law enforcement efforts against traffickers. In the coming year, the government should intensify its efforts to convict and punish traffickers for their crimes. It also should provide more victim assistance and promote greater awareness of the trafficking problem, especially among judges and law enforcement personnel.
The Government of El Salvador made strong efforts to prosecute traffickers during the reporting period, but did not secure many convictions over the past year. Article 367B of the Salvadoran Penal Code prohibits all forms of human trafficking and provides for penalties of up to eight years' imprisonment, which are commensurate with those prescribed for rape and other serious offenses. Sentences may be increased by one-third in aggravated circumstances, such as when the victim is a child. The government prosecuted 67 individuals for trafficking in 2006, a nearly four-fold increase from the number prosecuted during the previous year. Prosecutors obtained four convictions with sentences ranging from three to eight years' imprisonment. The police conducted undercover trafficking investigations and secured search warrants to raid brothels and other establishments. In 2006, 74 victims, mostly children, were rescued from trafficking situations. The government should dedicate more resources to such operations. The government should also intensify its efforts to assist and prepare trafficking victims for trial and increase training for judges and other criminal-justice officials on human trafficking. No credible reports of government complicity with trafficking were received during the reporting period.