Colombian girls kidnapped, believed sold into prostitution
April 1, 1996
Web posted at: 9:05 p.m. EST (0205 GMT)
BOGOTA, Colombia (CNN) -- A rash of kidnappings in Colombia's capital has young girls and their mothers worried about the girls' safety.
In the last year alone, at least seven girls between 11 and 15 years old were kidnapped in the working class neighborhood of La Manuelita. Three of the girls were taken in the afternoon just a few blocks from school.
"We have no peace day or night. We can't eat or sleep. This is torture, it would be better to die than to live through this."
-- Florinda Forjan
Intelligence sources told CNN the children are likely victims of an increased white slavery trade of Colombian girls. Reports say many of the girls end up in Japan, without passports and other papers that would help them return home.
Jamie Jaramillo, deputy school director, partially confirmed local suspicions. "There've been investigations that mafias grab young girls and take them overseas for prostitution, with no documents to escape," Jaramillo said.
CNN talked to five girls who escaped kidnapping attempts, and they all told similar stories. One day a man passing by in a car took a picture of them. A few days later another man tried to grab them.
The man these girls described was arrested, along with his female accomplice, but they were both released by the court because they had not been caught in the act.
Florinda Forjan is living through the kidnapping of her 11- year-old daughter Jesenia, which took place just over a month ago.
"We have no peace day or night. We can't eat or sleep. This is torture, it would be better to die than to live through this," Forjan said.
There are many others like her that wage their own private protests against what they see as government indifference. As one mother, Barbara Lopez, explains, status often times makes the difference in whether a child is found or not.
"Our daughters are from poor but honorable families. Why when a rich person's child is kidnapped they're found? Because they have money and status and we don't," Lopez said.
The mothers of La Manuelita have heard nothing about their missing daughters, but they continue searching.
Jesenia's mother had a message for her missing daughter. "I'll find you. I'll never stop looking for you as long as I live, my darling," Forjan said.
From Correspondent Lucia Newman
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