Fifty-eight-year-old Susana Trimarco is clearly a force to be reckoned with. The housewife reportedly wasn’t all that invested in keeping with news and current events. But when her 23-year-old daughter, Maria de los Angeles “Marita” Veron, went missing after a doctor’s appointment, the mother made exposing prostitution rings her personal business.
Associated Press reports that Marita vanished from provincial Tucuman in 2002. Dissatisfied with the “seeming indifference” to Marita’s suspected kidnapping, the mother started her own investigation, seeking out a cab driver who said he took her daughter to a brothel where she was physically assaulted and forced into prostitution. From there, she started posing as a recruiter of prostitutes. Susana reportedly entered “brothel after brothel” piecing together what happened to her daughter. All the while, she was encountering dangerous criminals, compiling her own evidence against politicians, police, and gangsters.
Oh, and all the while, she was also caring for her 3-year-old granddaughter Micaela, Marita’s daughter, along with her husband.
Since then, Susana has become a “one-woman campaign” against prostitution rings, putting people in jail left and right:
Publicity over Trimarco’s efforts prompted Argentine authorities to make a high-profile example of her daughter’s case by putting 13 people on trial for allegedly kidnapping Veron and holding her as a sex slave in a family-run operation of illegal brothels….The seven men and six women have pleaded innocent and their lawyers have said there’s no physical proof supporting the charges against them. The alleged ringleaders denied knowing Veron and said that women who work in their brothels do so willingly… Trimarco was the primary witness during the trial, testifying for six straight days about her search for her daughter…More than 150 witnesses testified in the trial, including a dozen former sex slaves who described brutal conditions in the brothels.
Susana maintains that the very first woman she rescued from the prostitution rings taught her how to remain resilient in her search, refraining from crying when confronted with her daughter’s alleged abusers because “these shameless people who had my daughter would laugh at me, and at my pain.” She adds:
“For the first time, I really understood what was happening to my daughter,” she said. “I was with my husband and with Micaela, asleep in the backseat of the car because she was still very small and I had no one to leave her with.”
At present, it is believed that Susana’s daughter was kidnapped twice — and with the help of police. Some witnesses claim that they saw Marita at a bus station three days after she disappeared the first time. Apparently a police officer from La Rioja, Domingo Pascual Andrada had brought her to a brothel in that region. But the government corruption runs even deeper. When authorities finally procured permission to search said brothels, a judge reportedly made police officers “wait” for hours as Marita was moved to another location. Another prostitute alleges that Marita was taken away just before police arrived on the scene.
Through other prostitutes, Susana has collected clues about her daughter’s whereabouts. But none of them paint a particularly rosy picture for the mother and grandmother:
Some of the former prostitutes said they had seen Veron drugged and haggard. One testified Veron felt trapped and missed her daughter. Another said she spotted Veron with dyed-blonde hair and an infant boy she was forced to conceive in a rape by a ringleader. A third thought Veron had been sold to a brothel in Spain — a lead reported to Interpol.
Susana remains disappointed that her daughter’s captors have not confessed to where her daughter is or what they may have done with her now a decade later. She maintains hope that Marita is still alive, but will be pushing ahead even if she is dead:
“I feel here in my breast that she is alive and I’m not going to stop until I find her,” Trimarco said. “If she’s no longer in this world, I want her body.”
Nevertheless, Susana’s efforts, along with that of her now 13-year-old granddaughter, have changed the lives of many victimized women. The very public investigation of Marita’s disappearance has provided “seed money” for a foundation in the missing woman’s name. As of 2012, said foundation has rescued more than 900 women and girls from sex trafficking, offering much needed housing, medical and psychological support. The foundation also helps these victims stick their former captors with lawsuits.
For her strides, Susana has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, named a “Women of Courage” by the U.S. State Department, and given an additional human rights award by Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez.
Talk about a mother on a mission. Super Woman has arrived and she needs to be canonized.