Victims Voices: Marta

Marta received assistance through the NGO ‘Defence for Children International’ in Costa Rica

Marta grew up in one of the most economically and socially deprived communities of Putarenas, a city on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. She and her younger sister never knew their father, and their alcoholic mother was violent toward the girls.

At age 13, Marta took a job as a household servant. If she earned some money, she and her sister could leave home and live somewhere safe.

Although Marta worked long hours, she was never paid for her domestic work. So when a friend introduced her to a woman who offered her a well-paid job helping foreign visitors in the capital, San José, Marta agreed. She thought she would be carrying luggage for tourists, but instead she was forced to have sex with foreign men.

Eventually someone reported Marta’s situation to the police, who took her to a government-run shelter, where she received medical care, psychological counseling and legal aid. With assistance from Defence for Children International (DNI), which works with the shelter, Marta receives counseling, is back in school and in vocational training. These empowering activities will help her to reintegrate into her community. Today Marta feels safe and she can see the possibility of a better future for herself and her sister.

Defence for Children International promotes and protects the rights of children through national offices and associated organizations in 47 countries. DNI Costa Rica combats trafficking of children nationally and regionally. It supports and empowers children who have been trafficked to help them reintegrate. It also advocates for policies to protect children in Costa Rica and Central America.

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