A Mother’s Desperate Plea Mobilises Police to Free 13-Year-Old Daughter and Three Other Minors

On 2 February, after filing a complaint and persistently reaching out to local authorities, a mother’s desperate plea for help was heard. A Dominican prosecutor and the national anti-trafficking unit (ATD), with International Justice Mission’s assistance, led a rescue operation to bring her 13-year-old daughter to safety.

Local anti-trafficking police rescued Valeria* and three other minors, ages 13-17, at night before they could be transported elsewhere and sold for sex again.

A local prosecutor reached out to IJM for support during an IJM-led community workshop. The workshop was developed to increase the capacity of community actors to identify suspicious situations and to teach them best practices on reporting sex trafficking crimes to local authorities. After receiving the information, IJM supported the anti-trafficking department to confirm key details of their investigation, including the presence of minors and the identity of their aggressor.

The investigation revealed that a 41-year-old Dominican man is the primary suspect of holding the survivors captive—including his 17-year-old daughter. The girls were held captive in his home, located in one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in the area. Based on the survivor’s testimony, the alleged perpetrator will face charges for drugging, transporting and profiting from them by selling the minors to men who paid to rape them.

The night of the rescue operation, Dominican public justice system officials collaborated to ensure the man was arrested, taken to court and not released on bail.

“At the moment, the girls are being assisted by CONANI (Dominican Child Welfare Agency), where they are helping them to understand their rights and why they were removed from that home,” says an IJM Aftercare Social Worker.

Since the rescue, Valeria and two of the other survivors have been placed in government-run shelters, where they received crisis care and medical attention. One survivor was able to return home to care for her baby.

In the next month, the case will move to court and IJM will continue to support local authorities by representing the survivors and helping prepare them to share their testimony in court.

*A pseudonym.

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