More than 1,000 women and girls have been apparent victims of sex trafficking in illicit bars in the US that operate largely beyond the reach of law enforcement, according to the anti-slavery group Polaris.

Half of the trafficking cases in cantinas – a type of bar popular in Mexico and the American south-west – arose in Houston, Texas, a city near the Mexican border with a large Latino population, said Polaris in a study that tracked calls to its trafficking hotlines from over the past decade.

Cantinas, social gathering spots popular in Latino communities, may disguise the cost of commercial sex in very high drink prices. Women are forced to flirt and drink with patrons, the study’s author, Tessa Couture, said.

Cantinas may limit who enters and may not be open to the general public, the report said.

Hotlines run by Polaris received reports of 201 cases of sex and labour trafficking, involving 1,300 potential victims at cantinas and bars in 20 US states, between 2007 and 2016. More than half the victims were underage, said Polaris.

Read More- The Guardian

Image courtesy of Alamy Stock Photo

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