Marisol tugs on my hand and looks up at me with her big brown eyes asking me to hold her in my arms. I reach down to pick up her tiny frame, just six years old, and I can see the sadness on her face.
“¿Qué comiste ayer, Marisol? Estas tan pesado!”
(What did you eat yesterday? You’re so heavy!)
She giggles; the dimples frame her toothy smile. But my joke is short-lived and can’t disguise the pain behind her eyes.
Marisol came to Casa de Esperanza last year after she and her sister, Carla, were rescued from a child brothel.
Marisol was only 5 years old at that time. Carla was 7. Their aunt had sold them into prostitution.
When I look into her eyes, there is something missing. The innocence of childhood is lost.
My heart is heavy. Before this trip I knew human trafficking existed, but now it has a face. I wish I could show you Marisol’s face, but to protect her I cannot.
Prostitution is legal in Nicaragua, but child prostitution is illegal. Managua is considered one of the largest export cities for human trafficking. An estimated 60% of the trafficked women in the Western Hemisphere are Nicaraguan.
There are 139 registered brothels in Nicaragua.
There are 11 declared child brothels, but numerous clandestine brothels.
These are the harsh realities of this place, but Casa de Esperanza is a light in the darkness. It is a refuge, a family, a training center, and a home for these women, young girls, and a few young boys.