Education + Advocacy = Change

 

Click a topic below for an index of articles:

New-Material

Home

Alternative-Treatments

Financial or Socio-Economic Issues

Forum

Health Insurance

Hepatitis

HIV/AIDS

Institutional Issues

International Reports

Legal Concerns

Math Models or Methods to Predict Trends

Medical Issues

Our Sponsors

Occupational Concerns

Our Board

Religion and infectious diseases

State Governments

Stigma or Discrimination Issues

 

If you would like to submit an article to this website, email us at info@heart-intl.net for a review of this paper

any words all words
Results per page:

“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


 
    

 

xyz123456789

 

CONTRABAND WOMEN
A special report, The New York Times Sunday, January 11, 1998
By MICHAEL SPECTER

Slaves; A compilation of articles
December 7, 2001 thepeoplesvoice.org

Posted http://liberty.hypermart.net/voices/slaves.htmby the EDITOR

RAMLE, Israel ˜ Irina always assumed that her beauty would somehow rescue her from the poverty and hopelessness of village life.  A few months ago, after answering a vague ad in a small Ukrainian newspaper, she slipped off a tour boat when it put in at Haifa, hoping to make a bundle dancing naked on the tops of tables.

She was 21, self-assured and glad to be out of Ukraine.  Israel offered a new world, and for a week or two everything seemed possible.  Then, one morning, she was driven to a brothel, where her boss burned her passport before her eyes.

"I own you," she recalled his saying.  "You are my property, and you will work until you earn your way out.  Don't try to leave.  You have no papers and you don't speak Hebrew.  You will be arrested and deported.  Then we will get you and bring you back."

It happens every single day.  Not just in Israel, which has deported nearly 1,500 Russian and Ukrainian women like Irina in the past three years.  But throughout the world, where selling naive and desperate young women into sexual bondage has become one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the robust global economy.

The international bazaar for women is hardly new, of course.  Asians have been its basic commodity for decades.  But economic hopelessness in the Slavic world has opened what experts call the most lucrative market of all to criminal gangs that have flourished since the fall of Communism: Eastern European women with little to sustain them but their dreams.  Pimps, law-enforcement officials and relief groups all agree that Ukrainian and Russian women are now the most valuable in the trade.

Because their immigration is often illegal ˜ and because some percentage of the women choose to work as prostitutes ˜ statistics are difficult to assess.  But the United Nations estimates that 4 million people throughout the world are trafficked each year ˜ forced through lies and coercion to work against their will in many types of servitude.  The International Organization for Migration has said that as many as 500,000 women are annually trafficked into Western Europe alone.

Many end up like Irina.  Stunned and outraged by the sudden order to prostitute herself, she simply refused.  She was beaten and raped before she succumbed.   Finally she got a break.  The brothel was raided, and she was brought here to Neve Tirtsa in Ramle, the only women's prison in Israel.  Now, like hundreds of Ukrainian and Russian women with no documents or obvious forgeries, she is waiting to be sent home.

"I don't think the man who ruined my life will even be fined," she said softly, slow tears filling her enormous green eyes.  "You can call me a fool for coming here.  That's my crime.  I am stupid.  A stupid girl from a little village.  But can people really buy and sell women and get away with it?   Sometimes I sit here and ask myself if that really happened to me, if it can really happen at all."

Then, waving her arm toward the muddy prison yard, where Russian is spoken more commonly than Hebrew, she whispered one last thought: "I'm not the only one, you know.  They have ruined us all."

Traffic Patterns:
Russia and Ukraine Supply the Flesh

Centered in Moscow and the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, the networks trafficking women run east to Japan and Thailand, where thousands of young Slavic women now work against their will as prostitutes, and west to the Adriatic Coast and beyond.  The routes are controlled by Russian crime gangs based in Moscow.  Even when they do not specifically move the women overseas, they provide security, logistical support, liaison with brothel owners in many countries and, usually, false documents.

Women often start their hellish journey by choice.  Seeking a better life, they are lured by local advertisements for good jobs in foreign countries at wages they could never imagine at home.

In Ukraine alone, the number of women who leave is staggering.  As many as 400,000 women under 30 have gone in the past decade, according to their country's interior ministry.  The Thai Embassy in Moscow, which processes visa applications from Russia and Ukraine, says it receives nearly 1,000 visa applications a day, most of these from women.

Israel is a fairly typical destination.  Prostitution is not illegal here, although brothels are, and with 250,000 foreign male workers ˜ most of whom are single or here without their wives ˜ the demand is great.  Police officials estimate that there are 25,000 paid sexual transactions every day.  Brothels are ubiquitous.

None of the women seem to realize the risks they run until it is too late.  Once they cross the border their passports will be confiscated, their freedoms curtailed and what little money they have taken from them at once.

"You want to tell these kids that if something seems too good to be true it usually is," said Lyudmilla Biryuk, a Ukrainian psychologist who has counseled women who have escaped or been released from bondage.  "But you can't imagine what fear and real ignorance can do to a person."

The women are smuggled by car, bus, boat and plane.  Handed off in the dead of night, many are told they will pick oranges, work as dancers or as waitresses.   Others have decided to try their luck at prostitution, usually for what they assume will be a few lucrative months.  They have no idea of the violence that awaits them.

The efficient, economically brutal routine ˜ whether here in Israel, or in one of a dozen other countries ˜ rarely varies.  Women are held in apartments, bars and makeshift brothels; there they service, by their own count, as many as 15 clients a day.   Often they sleep in shifts, four to a bed.  The best that most hope for is to be deported after the police finally catch up with their captors.

Few ever testify.  Those who do risk death.  Last year in Istanbul, Turkey, according to Ukrainian police investigators, two women were thrown to their deaths from a balcony while six of their Russian friends watched.

In Serbia, also last year, said a young Ukrainian woman who escaped in October, a woman who refused to work as a prostitute was beheaded in public.

In Milan, Italy, a week before Christmas, the police broke up a ring that was holding auctions in which women abducted from the countries of the former Soviet Union were put on blocks, partially naked, and sold at an average price of just under $1,000.

"This is happening wherever you look now," said Michael Platzer, the Vienna, Austria-based head of operations for the U.N.'s Center for International Crime Prevention.   "The Mafia is not stupid.  There is less law enforcement since the Soviet Union fell apart and more freedom of movement.  The earnings are incredible.   The overhead is low ˜ you don't have to buy cars and guns.  Drugs you sell once and they are gone.  Women can earn money for a long time."

"Also," he added, "the laws help the gangsters.  Prostitution is semilegal in many places and that makes enforcement tricky.  In most cases punishment is very light."

In some countries, Israel among them, there is not even a specific law against the sale of human beings.

Platzer said that although certainly "tens of thousands" of women were sold into prostitution each year, he was uncomfortable with statistics since nobody involved has any reason to tell the truth.

"But if you want to use numbers," he said, "think about this.  Two hundred million people are victims of contemporary forms of slavery.  Most aren't prostitutes, of course, but children in sweatshops, domestic workers, migrants.   During four centuries, 12 million people were believed to be involved in the slave trade between Africa and the New World.  The 200 million ˜ and many of course are women who are trafficked for sex ˜ is a current figure.  It's happening now.   Today."


 

    

Distress Calls:
Far-Flung Victims Provide Few Clues

The distress call came from Donetsk, the bleak center of coal production in southern Ukraine.  A woman was screaming on the telephone line.  Her sister and a friend were prisoners in a bar somewhere near Rome.  They spoke no Italian and had no way out, but had managed, briefly, to get hold of a man's cell phone.

"Do you have any idea where they are, exactly?" asked Olga Shved, who runs La Strada in Kiev, Ukraine's new center dedicated to fighting the trafficking of women in Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union.

The woman's answer was no.  Ms. Shved began searching for files and telephone numbers of the local consul, the police, anybody who could help.

"Do they know how far from Rome they are?" she asked, her voice tightening with each word.  "What about the name of the street or the bar?  Anything will help," she said, jotting notes furiously as she spoke.  "We can get the police on this, but we need something.  If they call back, tell them to give us a clue.  The street number.  The number of a bus that runs past.  One thing is all we need."

Ms. Shved hung up and called officials at Ukraine's Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry.  Her conversations were short, direct and obviously a routine part of her job.

That is because Ukraine ˜ and to a lesser degree its Slavic neighbors Russia and Belarus ˜ has replaced Thailand and the Philippines as the epicenter of the global business in trafficking women.  The Ukrainian problem has been worsened by a ravaged economy, an atrophied system of law enforcement, and criminal gangs that grow more brazen each year.  Young European women are in demand, and Ukraine, a country of 51 million people, has a seemingly endless supply.  It is not that hard to see why.

Neither Russia nor Ukraine reports accurate unemployment statistics.  But even partial numbers present a clear story of chaos and economic dislocation.

Federal employment statistics in Ukraine indicate that more than two-thirds of the unemployed are women.  The government also keeps another statistic: employed but not working.  Those are people who technically have jobs, and can use company amenities like day-care centers and hospitals.  But they do not work or get paid.   Three-quarters are women.  And of those who have lost their jobs since the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, more than 80 percent are women.

The average salary in Ukraine today is slightly less than $30 a month, but it is half that in the small towns that criminal gangs favor for recruiting women to work abroad.   On average, there are 30 applicants for every job in most Ukrainian cities.   There is no real hope; but there is freedom.

In that climate, looking for work in foreign countries has increasingly become a matter of survival.

"It's no secret that the highest prices now go for the white women," said Marco Buffo, executive director of On the Road, an antitrafficking organization in northern Italy.  "They are the novelty item now.  It used to be Nigerians and Asians at the top of the market.  Now it's the Ukrainians."

Economics is not the only factor causing women to flee their homelands.  There is also social reality.  For the first time, young women in Ukraine and Russia have the right, the ability and the willpower to walk away from their parents and their hometowns.   Village life is disintegrating throughout much of the former Soviet world, and youngsters are grabbing any chance they can find to save themselves.

"After the wall fell down, the Ukrainian people tried to live in the new circumstances," said Ms. Shved.  "It was very hard, and it gets no easier.   Girls now have few opportunities yet great freedom.  They see 'Pretty Woman,' or a thousand movies and ads with the same point, that somebody who is rich can save them.   The glory and ease of wealth is almost the basic point of the Western advertising that we see.  Here the towns are dying.  What jobs there are go to men.  So they leave."

First, however, they answer ads from employment agencies promising to find them work in a foreign country.  Here again, Russian crime gangs play a central role.  They often recruit people through seemingly innocuous "mail order bride" meetings.   Even when they do not, few such organizations can operate without paying off one gang or another.  Sometimes want ads are almost honest, suggesting that the women can earn up to $1,000 a month as "escorts" abroad.  Often they are vague or blatantly untrue.


Recruiting Methods:
Ads Make Offers Too Good To Be True

One typical ad used by traffickers in Kiev last year read: "Girls: Must be single and very pretty.  Young and tall.  We invite you for work as models, secretaries, dancers, choreographers, gymnasts.  Housing is supplied.  Foreign posts available.  Must apply in person."

One young woman who did, and made it back alive, described a harrowing journey.   "I met with these guys, and they asked if I would work at a strip bar," she said.  "Why not, I thought.  They said we would have to leave at once.   We went by car to the Slovak Republic where they grabbed my passport.  I think they got me new papers there, but threatened me if I spoke out.  We made it to Vienna, then to Turkey.  I was kept in a bar and I was told I owed $5,000 for my travel.  I worked for three days, and on the fourth I was arrested."

Lately, the ads have started to disappear from the main cities ˜ where the realities of such offers are known now.  These days the appeals are made in the provinces, where their success is undiminished.

Most of the thousands of Ukrainian women who go abroad each year are illegal immigrants who do not work in the sex business.  Often they apply for a legal visa ˜ to dance, or work in a bar ˜ and then stay after it expires.

Many go to Turkey and Germany, where Russian crime groups are particularly powerful.   Israeli leaders say that Russian women ˜ they tend to refer to all women from the former Soviet Union as Russian ˜ disappear off tour boats every day.   Officials in Italy estimate that at least 30,000 Ukrainian women are employed illegally there now.

Most are domestic workers, but a growing number are prostitutes, some of them having been promised work as domestics only to find out their jobs were a lie.  Part of the problem became clear in a two-year study recently concluded by the Washington-based nonprofit group Global Survival Network: Police officials in many countries just don't care.

The network, after undercover interviews with gangsters, pimps and corrupt officials, found that local police forces ˜ often those best able to prevent trafficking ˜ are least interested in helping.

Gillian Caldwell of Global Survival Network has been deeply involved in the study.   "In Tokyo," she said, "a sympathetic senator arranged a meeting for us with senior police officials to discuss the growing prevalence of trafficking from Russia into Japan.  The police insisted it wasn't a problem, and they didn't even want the concrete information we could have provided.  That didn't surprise local relief agencies, who cited instances in which police had actually sold trafficked women back to the criminal networks which had enslaved them."


Official Reactions:
Best-Placed To Help, but Least Inclined

Complacency among police agencies is not uncommon.

"Women's groups want to blow this all out of proportion," said Gennadi Lepenko, chief of Kiev's branch of Interpol, the international police agency.  "Perhaps this was a problem a few years ago. But it's under control now."

That is not the view at Ukraine's parliament ˜ which is trying to pass new laws to protect young women ˜ or at the Interior Ministry.

"We have a very serious problem here, and we are simply not equipped to solve it by ourselves," said Mikhail Lebed, chief of criminal investigations for the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.  "It is a human tragedy, but also, frankly, a national crisis.  Gangsters make more from these women in a week than we have in our law-enforcement budget for the whole year.  To be honest, unless we get some help we are not going to stop it."

But solutions will not be simple.  Criminal gangs risk little by ferrying women out of the country; indeed, many of the women go voluntarily.  Laws are vague, cooperation between countries rare and punishment of traffickers almost nonexistent.   Without work or much hope of a future at home, an eager teen-ager will find it hard to believe that the promise of a job in Italy, Turkey or Israel is almost certain to be worthless.

"I answered an ad to be a waitress," said Tamara, 19, a Ukrainian prostitute in a massage parlor near Tel Aviv's old Central Bus Station, a Russian-language ghetto for the cheapest brothels.  "I'm not sure I would go back now if I could.  What would I do there, stand on a bread line or work in a factory for no wages?"

Tamara, like all other such women interviewed for this article, asked that her full name not be published.  She has classic Slavic features, with long blond hair and deep green eyes.  She turned several potential customers away so she could speak at length with a reporter.  She was willing to talk as long as her boss was out.   She said she was not watched closely while she remained within the garish confines of the "health club."

"I didn't plan to do this," she said, looking sourly at the rich red walls and leopard prints around her.  "They took my passport, so I don't have much choice.  But they do give me money.  And believe me, it's better than anything I could ever get at home."

Yitzhak Tyler, the chief of undercover activities for the Haifa police, is a big, open-faced man who doesn't mince words.

"We got a hell of a problem on our hands," he said.  The port city of 200,000 has become the easiest entryway for women brought to Israel to work as prostitutes ˜ though by no means the only one.  Sometimes they walk off tour boats, but increasingly they come with forged documents that enable them to live and work in Israel.   These have often been bought or stolen from elderly Jewish women in Russia or Ukraine.

"This is a sophisticated, global operation," Tyler said.  "It's evil, and it's successful because the money is so good.  These men pay $500 to $1,000 for a Ukrainian or Russian woman.  Do you understand what I am telling you?   They will buy these women and make a fortune out of them."

To illustrate his point, Tyler grabbed a black calculator and started calling out the sums as he punched them in.

"Take a small place," he said, "with 10 girls.  Each has 15 to 20 clients a day.  Multiply that by say 200 shekels.  So say 30,000 shekels a day comes in to each place.  Each girl works 25 days a month.  Minimum."

Tyler was busy doing math as he spoke.  "So we are talking about 750,000 shekels a month, or about $215,000.  A man often owns five of these places.   That's a million dollars.  No taxes, no real overhead.  It's a factory with slave labor.  And we've got them all over Israel."

The Tropicana, in Tel Aviv's bustling business district, is one of the busiest bordellos.  The women who work there, like nearly all prostitutes in Israel today, are Russian.  Their boss, however, is not.

"Israelis love Russian girls," said Jacob Golan, who owns this and two other clubs, and spoke willingly about the business he finds so "successful."   "They are blonde and good-looking and different from us," he said, chuckling as he drew his hand over his black hair.  "And they are desperate.   They are ready to do anything for money."

Always filled with half-naked Russian women, the club is open around the clock.   There is a schedule on the wall next to the receptionist ˜ with each woman's hours listed in a different color, and the days and shifts rotating, as at a restaurant or a bar.  Next to the schedule a sign reads, "We don't accept checks."   Next to that there is a poster for a missing Israeli woman.

There are 12 cubicles at the Tropicana where 20 women work in shifts, eight during the daytime, 12 at night.  Business is always booming, and not just with foreign workers.   Israeli soldiers, with rifles on their shoulders, frequent the place, as do business executives and tourists.

Mr. Golan was asked if most women who work at the club do so voluntarily.  He laughed heartily.

"I don't get into that," he said, staring vacantly across his club at four Russian women sitting on a low couch.  "They are brought here and told to work.   I don't force them.  I pay them.  What goes on between them and the men they are with, how could that be my problem?"


Deterrent Strategies:
A System that Fails Those Who Testify

Every once in a while, usually with great fanfare and plenty of advance notice, Golan gets raided.  He pays a fine, and the women without good false documents are taken to prison.

If they are deported, the charges against them are dropped.  But if a woman wants to file a complaint, then she must remain in prison until a trial is held.  "In the past four years," Betty Lahan, prison director of Neve Tirtsa here, said, "I don't know of a single case where a woman chose to testify."

Such punitive treatment of victims is the rule rather than the exception.  In Italy, where the police say killings of women forced into prostitution average one a month, parliament tried to create a sort of witness protection program.  But it only allowed women to stay in the country for one year and did nothing to hide their identities.

"The deck is just so completely stacked against the women in all this," said Daniella Pompei, an immigration specialist with the community of Sant'Egidio, the Catholic relief agency in Rome.  "The police is the last place these women want to go."  She said that only 20 women had ever used the protection program.

It is not clear who will stop the mob.  On a trip to Ukraine late last year, Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke out about the new slave trade that has developed so rapidly there.  The United States and the European Union have plans to work together to educate young women about the dangers of working abroad.  Other initiatives, like stays of deportation for prisoners, victims' shelters and counseling, have also been discussed.

"I don't care about any of that," said Lena, a young Latvian, one of the inmates waiting to be deported here.  "I just want to know one thing.  How will I ever walk down the street like a human being again?"


EVEN AID WORKERS MAKE USE OF SEX SLAVES
TOP Stories in the Toronto Star OP-ED May 7, 2000 Falling prey to peace Even aid workers make use of sex slaves as Europe's human traffickers exploit the war zone By Olivia Ward Toronto Star European Bureau PRISTINA, Kosovo

POST-WAR KOSOVO has become the latest hotspot in Europe for sexual slavery. Since Yugoslav forces pulled out of the province last June and turned it over to United Nations control, thousands of East European women have been lured over Kosovo's unsettled borders to a life of violence, abuse, starvation and disease that police describe as subhuman. Behind the doors of dimly lit makeshift bars, women are forced to receive 10 to 20 clients a night on filthy backroom cots. Sometimes there are no toilets or running water. The criminals, who operate across Europe, kidnapping, terrorizing and enslaving women, have become a small but particularly dangerous force in Kosovo's burgeoning underworld. Those who have tried to liberate the women from the lucrative sex trade have been threatened with mob violence. It is believed some of the captives have been murdered trying to escape. Aid worker Barbara, risks violence for speaking out. Another veteran aid worker sittibg hunched into a chair at a sunny cafe glancing fearfully around her - refused recently to comment on the sex trade. "I'm sorry but I can't tell you anything", she says, her hands shaking as she lights a cigarette. "You need a story, but I need to go on living". Paula (not her real name) is a psychologist whose job is counselling traumatized women. Her clients are not ethnic Albanian war casualties, but victims of Kosovo's peace. In this territory of rapid transition, with a thinly stretched police force and inadequate detention facilities, mobsters hold most of the aces. "Kosovo is a great big marketplace", says Barbara, an administrator with one of the organizations that help shelter the women on their way back to their home countries, placing them in secret, heavily guarded locations. She, too, is nervous about revealing her identity. "In the criminalized Balkan region, betrayal and violence dog even the most well-intentioned", she says. The poisonous mixture of sex, violence and big profits in the expanding trafficking racket makes it impossible to know whom to trust. "In any conflict zone, you have a lot of men who are looking for sex, and criminals who are willing to supply them", she says. "Here, they can do it with impunity because the legal infrastructure barely exists". And, she adds, "The trade is shocking because it is not ordinary prostitution, the women are not voluntary sex workers, and they are abused and degraded in a life of daily terror. The stories we hear are so horrible, I have to stop listening, It's hard to believe that human beings could be used in such an appalling way in Europe in this century". There are 100,000 'internationals' in Kosovo, about 60,000 of them aid workers and the rest members of the military. But the overburdened U.N. police force can barely cope with the daily demands of fighting violent crime and ethnically motivated attacks in the war-torn province. In the past six months, police have rescued only 50 women, taking them to halfway houses in Kosovo for treatment and preparation for return home. Most disturbing, nearly half of the men who patronize the women are international aid workers and peacekeepers, even though it is obvious from the conditions at the sleazy underground bars that double as local brothels that this is not prostitution, but slavery. And, according to aid workers and KFOR officials who asked not to be identified, members of at least one of the peacekeeping contingents are involved in running a brothel in Kosovo. One bar in the Pristina suburb of Slatina, which was raided by Italian members of the U.N. police, operated near the headquarters of the Russian forces. Its clients, police said, were American as well as Russian troops. KFOR contributors deny such involvement. But although the military is kept under heavy discipline, and troops are barred from socializing in towns, the enslaved women tell their counsellors that a number of the men find ways to evade the rules. Male aid workers, on short-term contracts away from wives or girlfriends, also have little difficulty finding action in notorious bars. "Some of the women have begged the humanitarian workers to help them, and they're just ignored", says Barbara. "We're very shocked by this, and we have urged their organizations to discipline them". Like other aid officials who work with the rescued women, Barbara refuses to allow reporters to approach the secret shelters and interview the residents, for security reasons. The main country of supply for Kosovo's sex slaves, police and aid workers say, is the former Soviet republic of Moldova, bordering impoverished Romania. But many others are from Romania itself, as well as Ukraine and Bulgaria. The enslaved women are part of a pattern of trafficking throughout Europe, according to the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, which produced a recent report on what it said was a growing menace to the women of the poorest countries. "More than 174,000 are estimated trafficked each year from the former Soviet Union and East Europe", it said. Most are under 25, but a lot of them are aged 12 to 18. Ironically, some of the victims began their nightmarish odyssey by spending their life savings on phony visas to escape their near-bankrupt countries. Others were tricked into signing up for what they thought would be respectable jobs as waitresses or dancers in rich western countries, handing over their documents to racketeers who later sold the women to human traffickers for sums ranging from the equivalent of $500 to $20,000. According to those who have helped the rescued women, a typical life of sexual slavery begins in a sleazy hotel room in an East European city, where the new recruits are indoctrinated by multiple rapes. Women who already earned a scant living from prostitution discover that their wages are now owned by their new masters. Captured by what appears to be a well-developed criminal network, the women are moved through several countries in the region, traded off each time to men who bid thousands of dollars or deutsch marks for them. Many end up in Macedonia, whose borders with Kosovo are patrolled by international forces, and which has a large ethnic Albanian population. Once they reach Kosovo, the enslaved women hit rock bottom. Police who have raided bars in Pristina say that some of the women have been forced to live in cellars "not fit for a dog to inhabit". The owner of one bar named Toto's, which was closed by international police, locked them into a squalid unheated basement without running water, toilets, or beds to sleep in. Some of the trapped women tried to commit suicide. Others were penned in an attic. All were kept under lock and key, and women who tried to escape said they were beaten. In addition to working as prostitutes, some of the women were forced to provide bar entertainment by dancing naked for the clients. Many of these women will never be rescued. Aid workers fear they will eventually die violently, or from inevitable disease. Few clients worry about protection against sexually transmitted disease, and the women are in no position to protect themselves. "The women we see have every kind of physical and mental illness you would expect in that life", says Barbara. None of the captive women will realize her dream of rising from abject poverty. And only a few will be able to leave their captors, even after they have worked out the so called debts incurred by their sale. "The best they can hope for is to get out with their lives," says Barbara. "We don't even know how many have already died. lists.partners-intl.net

Canadian detective on mission to rescue Kosovo sex slaves 270 young women freed from captivity in past 9 months - Olivia thestar.com Feb. 23, 2001 EUROPEAN BUREAU PRISTINA, Yugoslavia - In the hallway of a featureless building at the edge of Kosovo's provincial capital, a row of young women sit slumped on chairs, their faces blank, their eyes dull and dark-ringed. Most are in their teens or early 20s, but their haggard faces make them look a decade older. These are Kosovo's sex slaves, women smuggled across the borders of the heavily-fortified Serbian province, where bars, dance halls and secret brothels have sprung up amid the ruins of war. The women resting in the United Nations police building today have been rescued from captivity after weeks or months of enforced prostitution under the control of ruthless traffickers and local pimps. The man responsible for their safe return is Gordon Moon, a tall, strapping 40-year-old detective from Orillia, and now head of the Trafficking and Prostitution Investigation Unit of the U.N. international police force, CIVPOL. "Trafficking became huge business in Kosovo because there was no real enforcement,'' he says. ``But in January there was a new regulation that gave us the tools we needed to fight it in an effective way. Now the men who are doing this have something to lose.''  During the nine months that Moon has been in charge of anti-trafficking operations, he's launched dozens of raids that have rescued 270 women. But he admits the women are being replaced with lightning speed. ``If a couple of women manage to escape, a bar-owner can get more within a day or two,'' he says. ``Supply is not a big deal for them.'' Availability of new prostitutes may not be a problem, but a recent crackdown on criminals has brought harsher penalties and put several out of business. New trafficking regulations have turned sentences of days into years, and allowed the police to permanently close the bars and brothels. In the month since the new regulations came into effect, more than 10 men arrested for trafficking are awaiting trial, and some of the most notorious hotspots are empty and shuttered. But the traffickers are relentless enterprisers. Charging about $110 an hour, or about $735 a night, for the women who are forced to take on many men each night.``Most of them are working in appalling conditions, not even fed properly,'' says Moon. ``They're lured into the racket by promises that they can make hundreds a week as waitresses, dancers or even children's nannies. But the reality is very different.'' Treated worse than farm animals."There are in such disgustingly filthy conditions that it's difficult to imagine how they live,'' says Moon. ``They get only scraps to eat, and they wear the same clothes every day. There's no running water, and they can't wash. They have no medical treatment and they're suffering from all kinds of diseases. Most live way below starvation level.'' In one horrifying case, Moon's operations team found a teenage girl who had been locked in a cell-like room for 15 days, where she serviced many men each day. Some others have been found in chains. One recently rescued woman was injecting herself with penicillin for a sexually transmitted disease, because she was denied medical help. uri.edu

U.S. grapples with 'modern-day slavery' Most people brought to America come from former Soviet bloc nations (Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland), Latin American countries such as Mexico, Honduras and Brazil, and Asia countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, South Korea, China and Vietnam, U.S. officials said. A CIA report, "International Trafficking in Women to the United States: A Contemporary Manifestation of Slavery," found that weak laws on trafficking people and the complicated nature of building cases against those responsible have dissuaded many U.S. prosecutors from taking trafficking cases. cnn.com

 

    

The Sex Slaves from Mexico Teen-agers tell of forced prostitution By Sean Gardiner And Geoffrey Mohan - March 12, 2001 Maria Isabel Chalanda Pio was 15, a virgin and eager to earn dollars for her family when she left for Miami from her hometown of Santiago Tuxtla in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, Mexico. She came back raped, abused and pregnant after being forced into sexual slavery by a family of immigrant smugglers from her own town. At least a dozen more like Maria Chalanda were duped into leaving a string of small colonial towns in the green hills not far from the waters that separate Mexico from Florida. And these young women, as well as the families that entrusted them to the Cadena Sosa family that grew up beside them, are as poor or even poorer than when they left. Most of their captors remain free. The former sex slaves of Veracruz had a lot in common. They were young, pretty, naive and looking for money to buy a house or land by working illegally in the United States. At home, they had been lemon pickers, belt makers or cleaning ladies, eking out a desperate living in desperately poor towns. In the United States, they were told, they would work in restaurants or take care of children, earning more in a week than they saw in a year at home. Instead, they shared a unique ring of hell. Shuttled among trailers and houses all over rural South Florida, these teens -- and some pre-teens -- were forced to have sex with an endless series of migrant field workers, supposedly to pay off a 22,000-peso ($2,750) debt smugglers charged them to come north. "They made us work as long as they wanted," Maria Chalanda said, holding her 2-year-old daughter, Denys, whose father, she said, could be any of the immigrants who had sex with her. "There were up to 25 men, more, in a night,¦ she said. "I had to do what they said. I had to do what they wanted. They paid $20 and we got $3. Forced abortions, beatings and threats were all part of their new life in America, the women said later in depositions given in Florida. They worked six days a week, having sex in 15-minute sessions with men who paid their bosses $20 or $25. Thirty men a day was not unusual, and after the brothels closed for the night, the men who guarded the girls took their turn. In some cases, virgins were initiated into sexual servitude by being raped repeatedly. For some of the women, the hell lasted only a couple of weeks -- others were held captive for months. One woman endured 20 months in the guarded Florida prostitution prisons before a series of FBI and Border Patrol raids finally put an end in February 1998 to what one federal judge said was "one of the most base, most vile, most despicable, most reprehensible crimes¦ he had ever encountered. newsday.com / The Mexican Route

Rescuing Sex Slaves is God's Work for Indian Woman Crosswalk.com News Channel - By Janet Chismar Senior Editor, News & Culture. She risks it all to save girls living in darkness and slavery in Bombay brothels.  "Around the world, their eyes cry out for help. They are captives in a 21st century slave trade that rivals in magnitude the African slave trade of the 17th and 18th centuries. They are the women and girls, some as young as 10, who labor in the brothels of India, Thailand, Cambodia and a host of other countries around the world. Whether they are kidnapped, tricked or coerced into prostitution, the result is the same: pain, anguish, and hopelessness."
So says "R.," who founded and directs a ministry for women who wish to escape prostitution in India. For fear of retribution from pimps and organized crime lords, information that could in any way identify the ministry or missionary cannot be used.
The numbers are staggering, according to Christian Aid Mission. While exact figures are unavailable, government officials from around the world agree that millions of females are forced into sex slavery each year, with children alone accounting for 2 million -- larger than the populations of New Hampshire and Vermont combined. Many become prostitutes in their own countries, while others are smuggled into foreign lands to spend much, if not all, of their lives in a virtual prison.
According to the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking in Washington, D.C., almost 200,000 Nepali girls, many under the age of 14, are sexual slaves in India. They estimate that 10,000 children between 6-14 are enslaved in brothels in Sri Lanka and that 20,000 women and girls from Burma have been forced into prostitution in Thailand.
This is just a sampling of statistics and doesn't even reflect the numbers of women and children being traded for sex in Europe or the United States. Why does this outrageous practice occur? Simply put: money. Asian women are sold to North American brothels for $16,000 each, say officials at the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking. Most of these women and children are kidnapped, often being drugged first, then sold. Others are tricked by promises of good-paying jobs in distant cities or countries, only to find themselves trapped in the clutches of the crime bosses who run the brothels, according to Christian Aid Mission. Still others are coerced by family members - mothers, fathers, even husbands - to engage in sex-for-hire in order to help support a poverty-stricken family. crosswalk.com
The Sex Slaves from Mexico Teen-agers tell of forced prostitution By Sean Gardiner And Geoffrey Mohan - March 12, 2001 Maria Isabel Chalanda Pio was 15, a virgin and eager to earn dollars for her family when she left for Miami from her hometown of Santiago Tuxtla in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, Mexico. She came back raped, abused and pregnant after being forced into sexual slavery by a family of immigrant smugglers from her own town. At least a dozen more like Maria Chalanda were duped into leaving a string of small colonial towns in the green hills not far from the waters that separate Mexico from Florida. And these young women, as well as the families that entrusted them to the Cadena Sosa family that grew up beside them, are as poor or even poorer than when they left. Most of their captors remain free. The former sex slaves of Veracruz had a lot in common. They were young, pretty, naive and looking for money to buy a house or land by working illegally in the United States. At home, they had been lemon pickers, belt makers or cleaning ladies, eking out a desperate living in desperately poor towns. In the United States, they were told, they would work in restaurants or take care of children, earning more in a week than they saw in a year at home. Instead, they shared a unique ring of hell. Shuttled among trailers and houses all over rural South Florida, these teens -- and some pre-teens -- were forced to have sex with an endless series of migrant field workers, supposedly to pay off a 22,000-peso ($2,750) debt smugglers charged them to come north. "They made us work as long as they wanted," Maria Chalanda said, holding her 2-year-old daughter, Denys, whose father, she said, could be any of the immigrants who had sex with her. "There were up to 25 men, more, in a night,¦ she said. "I had to do what they said. I had to do what they wanted. They paid $20 and we got $3. Forced abortions, beatings and threats were all part of their new life in America, the women said later in depositions given in Florida. They worked six days a week, having sex in 15-minute sessions with men who paid their bosses $20 or $25. Thirty men a day was not unusual, and after the brothels closed for the night, the men who guarded the girls took their turn. In some cases, virgins were initiated into sexual servitude by being raped repeatedly. For some of the women, the hell lasted only a couple of weeks -- others were held captive for months. One woman endured 20 months in the guarded Florida prostitution prisons before a series of FBI and Border Patrol raids finally put an end in February 1998 to what one federal judge said was "one of the most base, most vile, most despicable, most reprehensible crimes¦ he had ever encountered. newsday.com / The Mexican Route

Rescuing Sex Slaves is God's Work for Indian Woman Crosswalk.com News Channel - By Janet Chismar Senior Editor, News & Culture. She risks it all to save girls living in darkness and slavery in Bombay brothels.  "Around the world, their eyes cry out for help. They are captives in a 21st century slave trade that rivals in magnitude the African slave trade of the 17th and 18th centuries. They are the women and girls, some as young as 10, who labor in the brothels of India, Thailand, Cambodia and a host of other countries around the world. Whether they are kidnapped, tricked or coerced into prostitution, the result is the same: pain, anguish, and hopelessness."
So says "R.," who founded and directs a ministry for women who wish to escape prostitution in India. For fear of retribution from pimps and organized crime lords, information that could in any way identify the ministry or missionary cannot be used.
The numbers are staggering, according to Christian Aid Mission. While exact figures are unavailable, government officials from around the world agree that millions of females are forced into sex slavery each year, with children alone accounting for 2 million -- larger than the populations of New Hampshire and Vermont combined. Many become prostitutes in their own countries, while others are smuggled into foreign lands to spend much, if not all, of their lives in a virtual prison.
According to the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking in Washington, D.C., almost 200,000 Nepali girls, many under the age of 14, are sexual slaves in India. They estimate that 10,000 children between 6-14 are enslaved in brothels in Sri Lanka and that 20,000 women and girls from Burma have been forced into prostitution in Thailand.
This is just a sampling of statistics and doesn't even reflect the numbers of women and children being traded for sex in Europe or the United States. Why does this outrageous practice occur? Simply put: money. Asian women are sold to North American brothels for $16,000 each, say officials at the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking. Most of these women and children are kidnapped, often being drugged first, then sold. Others are tricked by promises of good-paying jobs in distant cities or countries, only to find themselves trapped in the clutches of the crime bosses who run the brothels, according to Christian Aid Mission. Still others are coerced by family members - mothers, fathers, even husbands - to engage in sex-for-hire in order to help support a poverty-stricken family. crosswalk.com

Kosovo sex slaves held in Soho flats The Sunday Times 4 th July 1999, by Edin Hamzic and Maeve Sheehan Kosovo sex slaves held in Soho flats Detectives are investigating the trafficking of hundrends of young women as sex slaves from Albania and Kosovo to Britain. Some have been sold, some were kidnapped and others were tricked with false passports and promises of work. They are being forced to work in brothels where they can earn 1500 a week or more, often selling sex to 15 clients a day. In most cases almost all money goes to the gangsters. geocities.com

Dreams Ending In Nightmares Many immigrant women, girls trapped in sex industry March 11, 2001 From Flushing massage parlors and Times Square strip clubs to shacks in rural Florida and brothels along the Serbian-Bosnian border, the trafficking of immigrants into the global sex trade has created a human tide that carries hundreds of thousands of women and children from their homelands each year. It is a migration fueled by the age-old immigrant dream of a better life. But in this exodus, the migrants are destined to serve, willingly or unwillingly, in a growing underground economy. "It is one of the major human rights violations and crimes stretching over the world,¦ said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who helped bring the issue to prominence in the Clinton administration, "... as serious a problem as trafficking in drugs. newsday.com

'Slave trade' thrives in Bosnia "When traders come they order the girls to take off all their clothes and they are standing in the road naked: They are exposed to be chosen just like cattle". news.bbc.co.uk

50,000 Russian women are sex slaves in Pacific Asia But more often sex slaves vanish, beaten to death for disobedience, their bodies well hidden, Alexei said, adding that there are no official estimates of how many Russian women fell victim to such treatment. vladnews.ru

Sex slavery thriving in Holy Land Frightened, an illegal alien, unfamiliar with Hebrew or Israeli geography, Christina had no real hope of escaping. Christina, an 18-year-old university student from Moldova, has been bought and sold so many times she has lost count. Hundreds of thousands of   'Christinas' have been bought like merchandise, beaten, raped and chained in Western brothels in a 21st century form of slavery. Christina is penniless. Those lucky enough to be paid a paltry sum, usually a few dollars, by their pimps save the money to buy themselves freedom from their brothel-prisons. Often they are sold before they can do so. "They are slaves and slaves of the worst kind," Levenkron said. "They are disposable people because it's so easy to buy a person." Human trafficking is becoming a modern day scourge, said Tal Raviv, an advocate for the International Organization for Migration who works in Kosovo where trafficking is widespread. "This has become a huge phenomena in the last decade," said Raviv during a visit to Israel. "The estimates are between half a million to 700,000 women trafficked every year just to the West, but the global figures are for millions." metimes.com

Women's groups battle sex slavery They work in massage parlors, strip bars and sex clubs from Israel to the Orient. Lured away from the boredom and poverty of small towns in Ukraine and Russia by promises of employment and a chance to travel abroad, they are duped or abducted by pimps and gangsters, often while law enforcement officials look the other way. They are smuggled abroad; their passports are stolen.  They are beaten, raped and forced to work as prostitutes to pay back "travel expenses" incurred by their abductors and employers.  They are terrified, easily cowed, and highly prized for their Slavic features by sex merchants and bordello owners. If they refuse to work or manage to escape, they are recaptured and punished, sometimes tortured and killed. If it sounds like Thailand or the Philippines, it's no coincidence. Thanks to lax legislation, complacent enforcement agencies, rampant unemployment and a mafia given virtual free reign over half a hemisphere, Ukraine and Russia have become the new capitals of the booming global trade in sex slaves. ukar.org

Vietnamese children sold into sex slavery By Nick Daniel in Svey Paak, Cambodia POOR Vietnamese parents are selling their children for as little as #200, condemning them to torture, humiliation and disease as the playthings of paedophiles in neighbouring Cambodia. The children are the victims of a conspiracy between top Vietnamese officials who sanction the trade in young girls, and of their parents' greed. They are joining the children from India, Thailand and the Philippines working as prostitutes in Asia's squalid brothels. When I first met one of these children, 12-year-old Dah Vit, it was clear that she had been tortured. Cigarette burns scarred her wrists and hands. We were sitting in the back room of a brothel a few miles outside Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. "She's a virgin, fresh, no diseases", the mamasan, the brothel's madam, told me. vinsight.org

Albanian Girls Kidnapped, Devoured Into a World of Prostitution TIRANA, Albania, May 21 — In the tiny and very poor village of Fushara in northern Albania, the girls are disappearing. Frane Bicaku's teenage daughter, Valentina, vanished from their home more than a year ago. She hasn't been heard from since. Gjin Lleshi lost two daughters: one was 15 and the other 17. He says they were taken by men who promised to marry them. Instead, the girls wound up as teenage prostitutes on the streets of Italy, smuggled there by the Albanian mafia. It happens almost every day, in just about every village and town in Albania. "They are kidnapped mostly," says Lydia Bici of the International Catholic Migratio Commission. "The minors are mostly kidnapped from discos or bars or the streets [and] even from the schools." In some villages, families have stopped sending their teenage girls to school, fearing they could be kidnapped and taken to a world they can hardly imagine. "A majority, it seems like, of the women who are trafficked are under 18 years old," says Sophie Mosko of Save the Children. "They're demanded younger and younger in the sex trade because there's less fear of AIDS." There are now about 30,000 Albanian prostitutes walking the streets of Europe. In a country of only about 3 million people, that is almost 1 percent of the Albanian population. It is believed that most of these prostitutes were trafficked into Europe as children. abcnews.go.com

Sex slavery: The growing trade March 8, 2001 (CNN) -- The plight of women and children being sold into sex slavery around the world is being highlighted as part of International Women's Day. An estimated two million women and children are sold into the sex trade every year, the U.S. research group Protection Project states. Launching a report by the group, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski described the sex trade as "a repugnant and despicable practice that has no place in the 21st century." She said: "No human being anywhere in the world should be regarded as a commodity." Former U.S. President Bill Clinton sponsored a law last year toughening the penalty for human trafficking. The ground-breaking law offers protection and an opportunity for permanent residency for victims who testify against those who enslave them. Calls for similar laws to be introduced in Europe are also being made to coincide with International Women's Day. Up to 120,000 women are smuggled into western Europe, mainly from central and eastern Europe, and forced into prostitution. A report by the Protection Project, based at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland, has documented the rising trends in the sex slave trade. It says more than 15,000 women are trafficked into the United States every year, many of them young girls from Mexico. cnn.com

DynCorp Disgrace Posted Jan. 14, 2002 By Kelly Patricia O’Meara Americans were seen in Bosnia as defenders of the children, until U.S. contractors began buying children as personal sex slaves. Middle-aged men having sex with 12- to 15-year-olds was too much for Ben Johnston, a hulking 6-foot-5-inch Texan, and more than a year ago he blew the whistle on his employer, DynCorp, a U.S. contracting company doing business in Bosnia. insightmag.com

Serbs crack down on sex slave trade - Paul Anderson in Belgrade Saturday January 26, 2002 Serbian police have begun to crack down on the "white slave trade" in women tricked into prostitution in the Balkans. In the biggest operation conducted so far by the organised crime department, hundreds of officers raided more than 400 night clubs, dance bars and cafes, freeing dozens of young women. guardian

Maria's Story Maria is a mathematics student from Bucharest. A friend told Maria she had arranged for her to meet a man who would get her a restaurant job in Italy. Instead, Maria was met by three traffickers who forced her into a car and drove her to the Yugoslav border. She was taken by boat to a small village in Yugoslavia where for two months she was kept as a prisoner with two other women. The traffickers abused them terribly and said that if they tried to escape they would be killed. Then, through a series of clandestine journeys by boat and car, the traffickers took Maria to Shkodre in Albania. She was kept in a small basement room for a month where the men who had kidnapped Maria continued to rape her. Police arrested Maria's traffickers as they were about to take her to Vlora, a port in southern Albania that is the most popular exit point for Italy where many of the trafficked women end up. The police called ICMC and we went and got Maria. Through our intervention and help, Maria has now returned to Romania. She fears that her family will not accept her and she plans to live with her grandmother. Maria is continuing her studies and hopes to go to university. She will be helped along the way by a network of organizations that will provide trauma-counseling and other re-integration services. Maria's last words to us as she left Tirana were, "Thank you. I'll never leave my home again." icmc.net