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Europe’s most desperate corner
In Moldova, the continent’s poorest country, kidneys have become commodities that can buy a better way of life, finds Angus Roxburgh in Chisinau

09 November 2003

“I'll take you up north,” says Captain Victor Pantelei, head of Moldova’s anti-human trafficking squad. “You can meet a man in a village there who sold his kidney.   He bought a saxophone with the money.”

And so I join Pantelei and Vasile, his faithful lieutenant, on a drive through heavy snow and rutted roads in Europe’s poorest country, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine.   Their team is 20-strong, but woefully underfunded.   “We haven’t got a single computer,” complains Pantelei on the journey.   “We haven’t got proper equipment – and we’re fighting criminal gangs who’ve got everything.”

Victor doesn’t even have petrol for his car.   I have to buy it.   He earns just $100 a month, and lives in a room in a hostel with his wife and son.   How is morale? “Great,” he says.   “If only we had the technical means, we could rid Moldova of the traffickers.”

Almost one fifth of Moldova’s 4.3 million people are believed to have gone abroad in search of work and a better life.   And a huge majority of those who remain, according to research, would leave if they had the means.   With so little hope, the country has become a major centre for trafficking in women, and human organs.

In the town of Edinec I meet Iurie, a young man with dark stubble on his face.   He looks tough enough to take care of himself.   But tears brim in his eyes as he tells me how gangsters forced him to have a kidney removed.

He had gone to Turkey thinking he would be given work as a stevedore.   Instead, he ended up on an operating table.   He was sent home, $11,000 richer, but traumatised for life.

Victor takes me to the nearby village of Oknita and introduces me to the mayor.   “We live in sheer poverty,” he says.   “Look at the village hospital over there.   It used to be the best in the district.   But there’s been no money for it for 10 years.   They closed it down, and it’s just rotting into the ground.”

The mayor leads Victor to a street where he knows a 20-year-old woman who bought a house and car with the proceeds from selling one of her kidneys.   She’s not in, but the gleaming car sits in the yard.

The realisation that a person can live with just one kidney has prompted many Moldovans to go abroad voluntarily to make a quick buck.   Back in Edinec, we finally track down Sergiu, the young musician who sold his kidney in Turkey to buy a saxophone.   It turns out, he made enough – $10,000 – to buy a clarinet and a house asll   And he is happy.

“Of course it was a risk,” he says, “but I had nothing.   Absolutely nothing.   Now I have this saxophone, and I can play at weddings and make a living.”

Tens of thousands of Moldovan women see prostitution as the way out.   Busloads of them cross the border into Romania with passports provided by criminal gangs.   From there they head to Turkey and western Europe.   Billboards in the streets of the capital, Chisinau, depict a girl gripped in a huge clenched fist, being exchanged for dollars.   The caption reads: “You are not for sale.” There are few countries in the world where people have to be reminded by public advertisements that they are human beings, not goods.

“The traffickers,” says Ana Revenco of La Strada, an organisation set up to help the victims of the sex trade, “are smart psychologists.   They go to poor villages where women are most vulnerable.   For many of them, prostitution is a survival strategy.”

I meet Jana, a 22-year-old who escaped from captivity as a sex slave in Turkey, and now lives with her little girl, Valeria, in a draughty, damp hovel on the outskirts of Chisinau.

Jana went to Istanbul voluntarily, believing she was being offered work for a month in bars and restaurants.   (She was recruited, ironically, by a local policeman, who is now in jail for trafficking.)   When she realised her employer wanted to turn her into a prostitute, she tried to escape, but was caught, handcuffed and driven to the seaside town of Bodrum.

There she was sold to a succession of pimps, her price-tag rising with each sale.

Her last owner, an Armenian woman, kept her in a basement.   She put a gun to Jana’s head when she refused to work, beat her, and even pushed her off a yacht into the sea for complaining.   Jana never received a penny for her “work”.

She speaks with horror of how another woman in the town, who refused to work, was brutally murdered, her face and genitals carved up.   The pimps showed photographs of the body to Jana as a warning.

Eventually Jana escaped with the help of a benevolent client.   She stole her passport back from her procurer, and with her client made her way on foot to Istanbul, where he bought a ticket home.   It was four months of terror.

Why did she go there in the first place, I ask.   Wasn’t she naïve?

“Maybe.   But I was so poor I couldn’t even buy clothes or food for my little girl.   I couldn’t even buy her sweets.”

The Moldovan government – the only freely elected communist government in the world – held a party congress last week, complete with a huge portrait of Lenin on the stage, and a backdrop bathed in rays of sunshine – perhaps the only bright light in this dark and miserable land.   The government desperately wants to join the European Union.   A newspaper headline even proclaimed: “Moldova is the first former Soviet state to start the process of joining the EU.”

That is wishful thinking, and would have come as a surprise to the European Commission, which treats this tiny, eastern European state very much as part of the “wider Europe”, not at all ready to think about EU membership.   Compounding the misery are political tensions to east and west.

In the east, the sliver of land that runs along the Dniester River, known as Transdniestria, populated mainly by Russians and Ukrainians, has declared de facto independence.   The EU wants Russia to pull its forces out by the end of the year, but there is little sign of that happening.   In the meantime, the two parts of Moldova snarl at each other across the river, and even – according to locals – disrupt each other’s mobile phone networks.

To the west, the Moldovan government is locked in an ideological war with Romania, denouncing Bucharest’s talk of “two Romanian states”, which Chisinau regards as a slight on its own, Moldovan, statehood.   (The country’s language is Romanian, but the authorities here refer to it as Moldovan to bolster their separate identity.)

The political instability alone would be enough to keep Moldova out of the EU.   Together with the poverty and crime, it has little hope at all.  

© 2003 newsquest (sunday herald) limited. all rights reserved
Saturday, 9 July, 2005
Trafficked to the West
Jill McGivering
By By Jill McGivering
BBC News, Lithuania
Western Europe is seeing a dramatic increase in the trafficking of young women from Eastern Europe since the expansion of the EU in 2004.
The UK is cited by many as the main destination and more than half of the women come from Lithuania.
Prostitute

Prostitution is illegal in Lithuania
Prostitution is illegal in Lithuania
She was clearly frightened, sitting hunched on the bottom bunk of a bed which almost filled the tiny room.
As she spoke, she touched the large crucifix round her neck.   Her hair was coloured with a defiant streak of red.
Last summer, she had been approached by a childhood friend, she told me.
He said he knew someone who was recruiting women to work as prostitutes in Holland.
Prostitution is illegal in Lithuania, but in Holland he said, she would make big money.   Trusting him, she agreed.
Within weeks she arrived in Holland — only to find herself a prisoner in a brothel — sold by her friend to a Lithuanian gang.
For months she endured beatings, sexual abuse and a constant stream of clients.
She saw little of the money she had been promised.   When she escaped back to Lithuania her childhood friend tipped off the gang members.
They beat her so badly, she almost died.   Today she is in hiding, terrified that her attackers will return.
Lucrative business
Soho street.

The UK is the country of choice for Eastern European traffickers
Soho street.
The UK is the country of choice for Eastern European traffickers
British investigators, struggling to keep up with what for them is a relatively new development, say the criminals are making millions.
Trafficking young women is as profitable as drugs and arms sales but without the same risks.
And increasingly the young women are being recruited by people they know and trust.
I heard of women sold by childhood friends, neighbours and even cousins.
And although many of the women know there will be sex work involved, there are others who simply expect to work as waitresses or au pairs.
Local case workers told me about two teenage girls in a small village whose neighbour personally reassured their parents the girls would be safe overseas.   She then sold them.
When they finally escaped from a foreign brothel and returned to the village to accuse her, no-one believed them.
Many of these cases are simply one person's word against another's.
And in Lithuania, anyone involved in sex work, even a victim of trafficking, is unlikely to be taken seriously.
Trawling for women
In a sprawling prison in rural Lithuania I met one of the few traffickers to be convicted.
Haroldas slouched in his chair, his prison number round his neck, watched by an armed guard.
Her story is common here.   Lithuania joined the EU last year.   Since then, the trafficking of young women into Western European brothels has increased dramatically.
Of course they ended up in brothels, he said, but they must have known what they were getting into
Yes, he shrugged, he had trafficked women.   He had lost count how many — maybe 12 to 20.
He described how he travelled round villages, asking about young women who might need jobs and befriending them.
First I just offered work locally, he said.   Then I would invite them to a party and get to know them.   Finally I would offer them a job abroad.
Of course they ended up in brothels, he said, but they must have known what they were getting into.
I asked him if he thought the amount of trafficking was increasing.   "Definitely," he said.   In fact it is growing so fast, he is worried.
"I've got a daughter," he added.   "I'm frightened she might get caught up in it too."
He had made roughly £20,000 ($35,000) selling girls — a fortune in Lithuania.   He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
Lithuania is trying to improve contacts with British investigators — but does not yet have an anti-trafficking unit.  
The police seem confused about the distinction between trafficking and prostitution.
Prostitution sting
In the capital, Vilnius, I joined two police specialists who tipped back lazily in their chairs and with a smirk showed me pictures of semi-naked women offering themselves on the internet.
They had to balance their anti-prostitution work, they said, with other duties: stopping illegal disposal of oil and prosecuting people who owned more than one cat or dog.
Finally, they telephoned one of the online prostitutes, agreed a price and set off to trap her.
Their sting took place in a set of cramped rooms in a filthy housing block.
When I arrived, two young women were slumped dejectedly on a low sofa, filling in arrest papers.
The wallpaper was damp and peeling.   Pictures of naked women cut from porn magazines were stuck to the walls.
Back at the police station, two other women — these Ukrainian women in their 20s — had just been arrested for prostitution.
They said they arrived in Lithuania the previous week, expecting to work in a massage parlour — only to find they had been sold to a brothel owner.
Why is trafficking so profitable — and why do British men want to buy sex with very young, very terrified women?
Case worker
Afterwards, the police officer shook his head.   He did not believe a word of it, he said.
In the meantime, young women are being sold into UK brothels in steadily growing numbers.
Catching the traffickers is one way of tackling it.   But reducing demand is another.
In Lithuania, I was asked: "What's Britain doing to change attitudes towards prostitution?"
Or as one case worker asked me: "Why is trafficking so profitable — and why do British men want to buy sex with very young, very terrified women?"
BBC — Saturday, 10 July, 2004
Poor Moldovans lured into sex trade
Emma Jane Kirby
By Emma Jane Kirby
BBC correspondent, Moldova
Ruthless sex traders are exploiting tens of thousands of young women from Moldova who are desperately seeking a better life outside Europe's poorest country.
Occasionally she scowled and put her hand to her stomach — she was eight months pregnant and clearly uncomfortable.
Florica had not planned this pregnancy.
She was carrying the child of the man who had raped her and who had then sold her into prostitution in Russia.
Today was her 17th birthday.
Prostitutes waiting for clients in downtown Moscow.

Prostitution is rife on Moscow streets.
Prostitutes waiting for clients in downtown Moscow.
Prostitution is rife on Moscow streets.
"Happy Birthday, dear!" cooed Lilia, a big, homely-looking woman who was sitting beside Florica and her two sisters.
Lilia was the local psychiatrist and she gave me the rough outline of Florica's story.
Rejected by their mother, all three girls had found themselves on the streets.
They were easy prey for the "traffickers", the criminal gangs who seek out vulnerable women, con them into believing they can offer them great jobs abroad, before forcing them to work as prostitutes.
When Florica was told she and her sisters would be working in an office in Paris, she had no hesitation in boarding the bus for Romania, from where she expected to make the long journey to France.
It did not happen, of course.
The sisters were brutally beaten and bundled into a car bound for Moscow, where for the next six months they were chained to beds and forced to have sex with hundreds of men.
Blind risk
I looked over again at Florica who was still knitting mechanically, staring into space with dull eyes.
Lilia seemed to know what I was thinking.
"She's not quite alive, is she?" she whispered.
"Once, I asked her how she felt, being raped by all those men, and she told me that at first it was so cruel she was sure she had gone to hell, and then after a few days it just didn't matter any more, because she had ceased to matter."
And the most frightening thing is that to many people in Moldova, Florica really does not matter.
Or at least they cannot afford for her to matter.
Moldova is Europe's poorest country.
In the capital city, Chisinau, the average wage is about $2 a day.
In the countryside, it is half that.
And that is what prompts so many people to look for work abroad.
One in three Moldovans now live outside their country.
The hope of a more prosperous future means risk is embraced almost blindly.
Tell a desperate girl like Florica a fairytale about France and she will believe you because she wants, and perhaps needs, to believe you.
Grim reality
Teaching young women the art of reading between the lines is the goal of one of the charity groups working in Moldova, the International Organisation for Migration.
It is sponsoring the screening of a special film called Lilja 4-Ever in all Moldovan secondary schools.
Lilja 4-Ever is a gritty, frightening movie which many Western European parents might object to their teenage daughters seeing.
Sixteen-year-old Lilja, abandoned by her mother, is left to fend for herself until she meets a man in a bar who promises her a flashy job in Sweden.  
When she arrives in Stockholm, of course, that flashy job turns out to be prostitution and there are graphic scenes as Lilja is shown being brutalised by scores of old and dirty men.
The sisters were brutally beaten, chained to beds and forced to have sex with hundreds of men
Watching the film in a Chisinau high school one afternoon, I was embarrassed to find I was crying.
The actress playing Lilja was a slender blonde and she shared no physical resemblance with Florica, but there was something about her eyes which was all too familiar; dead eyes which reflected nothing and which entertained no hope.
I should not have been self-conscious about the tears, all around me the students were sobbing.
Many of them would have had older sisters or friends who had gone abroad and who had then mysteriously failed to write home ever again.
"However much we need money," instructed their teacher after the film was finished, "we must not be tempted to take risks."
Poverty
Money is needed everywhere including, I discovered, at the local police station.
Superintendent Ion Bejan had kindly agreed to talk to us about the Moldovan police force's efforts to crack down on the trafficking gangs who were targeting girls like Florica.
He was embarrassed as he showed us into his office at Chisinau police station; he did not have much furniture, he said, and he apologised for the room being a bit dark, but not all the lights had bulbs in them.
We do not have enough patrol cars, we cannot afford enough officers and our weapons are old
Superintendent Ion Bejan
On his spacious desk there were a few neat piles of paper folders which he tapped proudly.
"All our solved cases," he said.
"The Moldovan police force really is cracking down on the trafficking gangs."
But I know that Florica's case notes are not among those triumphant papers.
I know that because I am aware the police have not even begun an investigation into what happened to her.
It is not that they do not care, they simply do not have the funding for yet another case.
When I called up the Chisinau police station and asked one of the officers if we could drive to the Romanian border with them to film their work at the crossing point — the spot where Florica had been sold — there was an awkward silence on the line before a strained voice responded.
"Well, could you possibly pay for our petrol?" they said.   "You see, we only get a limited amount for the week."
Superintendent Bejan is a proud man and he does not like it when I mention money.
As soon as I say I want to start filming him he excuses himself.
He goes to a cupboard in the corner and pulls out a beautifully pressed uniform — carefully preserved in plastic sheets — so that he might "look more the part."
Once you meet a girl who has been sold into the sex trade and you seethe terrible injuries she has received, you want to get the man thatdid it to her
Superintendent Ion Bejan
Once dressed, he sits down again behind his vast desk.   And then suddenly I realise why the desk looks so big.   The Chief of the Moldovan Police Force does not even have a computer.
"No, we do not have much, " he agrees miserably.   "It is pretty hard to keep track of cases when you only have paper records.   It makes sharing information across different districts a bit difficult."
He looks down at his paper folders and becomes more animated.
"We do not have enough patrol cars, we cannot afford enough officers, our weapons are old and, well...," he points to my chair.
I am sitting on an old car seat which has been glued to two lumps of metal.
It is a known fact that where there is abject poverty in a society, there is usually overt corruption too.
Superintendent Bejan acknowledges the problem but says he is confident things are improving.
"It used to be really bad," he said.   "But now the officers are committed to stopping trafficking.   Once you meet a girl who has been sold into the sex trade and you have seen for yourself the terrible injuries she has received, well, you want to get the man that did it to her, you want him brought to justice."
Go-between
I thought of Florica back in her hostel, silently knitting baby clothes for her rapist's child and I knew that she had long given up any hope that justice would come her way.
"But people are caught," insisted the superintendent, and perhaps to drive home the point, he suggested I go down to the police cells to meet someone he had arrested last week on suspicion of trafficking.
I agreed to go.
The jail was in the basement, it was a dungeon, a place of childhood nightmares; damp, dark corners with peeling paint, and the fusty air was filled with the sound of strange, muffled shouts and cries.
Woman selling cigarettes in Chisinau, capital of Moldova.

The average income in Moldova is just a few dollars a day.
Woman selling cigarettes in Chisinau, capital of Moldova.
The average income in Moldova is just a few dollars a day
"She is in here," said Bejan.  
"She?" I asked incredulously.  
"Oh yes" he smiled.   "Svetlana is a woman and a family doctor.   In Moldova, many people will do anything for a few dollars."
Svetlana's cell was tiny and it contained nothing but a filthy double bed which she shared with another woman.
Along the corridor, a radio was blasting out a maddening football chant.
It could not be switched off, I was told — it was there to stop prisoners talking to each other.
Svetlana was a fat woman whose face was dripping with perspiration and tears.   She stank of old meat.
"I was just the go-between," she kept saying.
"I told you I did not know the girl was going to be sold to the traffickers.   I just got the papers for her so she could go abroad."
"I know you are lying," said Bejan.   "It was the girl herself who told us about you."
Svetlana began to sob.
We have talked about poverty and corruption in the Moldovan policeforce... What makes you think the justice system is in any bettershape
Superintendent Ion Bejan
"I was not even paid," she insisted.   "I was not even paid."
Superintendent Bejan asked if I had any questions for Svetlana.   I asked her if she knew what had happened to the girl she had arranged the papers for her.
"She thought she was going to be a dancer in Germany," she said softly.   "But she was made to work as a prostitute in Saudi Arabia."
I asked her if she felt bad about the part she had played in bringing the girl such unimaginable misery.   Svetlana covered her face with her hands and wept.
Later, after she had been taken back to her cell, I became curious about the sentence she would receive if found guilty at her trial.  
Superintendent Bejan smiled.   "She will probably get away scot-free," he said.   "We will get her to court and then she will probably just walk away at the end of it."
I looked at him incredulously and felt my face flush red with anger.
"We have talked about poverty and corruption in the Moldovan police force," he said politely.   "What makes you think the Moldovan justice system is in any better shape?"
Unimaginable misery
It is sometimes difficult to remember that Moldova is a European country but if Romania succeeds in its bid to join the European Union, then Moldova will form the EU's external border.
With African levels of poverty, no-one is exactly on tenterhooks waiting for Moldova's accession date to be announced.
In fact, few people see any future in staying in the country.   Day after day the bus stations, thick with diesel fumes, are packed with impatient people buying tickets for the battered, blue minibuses which will take them over the Romanian border.
I met one of the buses at the crossing point and talked to some of the young women on board who were jittery with excitement.
One of them, Elena, was about 19 and dressed from head to toe in fake Gucci, from her pink-tinted sunglasses to her synthetic leather mini skirt.
"I am not really going to Romania," she blurted, "I have got a friend in Italy, he is my boyfriend... well, I have not seen him for three years, but he says if I meet him in Romania, he can get me a job in a fashion house in Rome!"
I asked Elena warily if she was sure she could trust this "boyfriend" she had not seen for so long?
"He loves me!" she laughed.   "It is a great chance for me."
An immigration officer stamped her passport and slipped a leaflet inside it.
"Can you be sure you are not the victim of a trafficking scam?" asked the leaflet, printed by an international charity organisation.   "If you are worried," it said, "and want to talk to someone in confidence, call our hotline."
I felt a ridiculous urge to run after the bus, to thump on its windows and yell at Elena and her young friends to get off, to turn around, to go back.   But to go back to what? A dollar a day?
A dollar a day when you know that just over the border is the real Europe, the Europe where people go to college, can find jobs, can afford to buy nice clothes? A chance, as Elena said, there was just a chance that it might work out OK.
But as I watched the bus recede into the distance, with Elena's grinning face beaming at me through the back window, I could not help wondering if that is how Florica had looked when, six months before, she had boarded a bus she thought was taking her to Paris.
Some of the names used in this article have been changed to protect identities.
Customers help stamp out Turkey's sex slaves
By Meriel Beattie in Ankara
Published: 28 December 2005
An unlikely hero has emerged in Turkey to rescue victims of forced prostitution: the brothel customer.
While the country's security forces are hardly renowned for their attention to human rights or sympathetic treatment of women, they have been chalking up impressive successes in finding and freeing trafficked women from brothels.
In the past six months, 100 women - mostly from Ukraine, Moldova, Romania or Russia - have been rescued from sex slavery and Turkish police have broken up 10 trafficking networks.
There are two reasons for these results. A charge-free hotline was set up in May by the UN's International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for women to call for help.   It is staffed by multi-lingual operators who try to pinpoint where the women are - and then send in the police.
But the second, more unexpected, factor is the chivalry of the Turkish brothel client.
Since the hotline started, 74 per cent of tip-offs have come from men: customers who have learned to spot the difference between a professional prostitute, and someone who's been forced into it.
"I've been very surprised," said Marielle Lindstrom, head of the IOM in Turkey.   "We haven't noticed this anywhere in Europe.
"Turkish men seem to have an old-fashioned view of women.   They don't mind using prostitutes, but they want the woman to be doing this willingly.   If she's found not to be doing it willingly ... it affects their pride."
Unlike the professional Russian prostitutes, nicknamed "Natashas", who invaded casinos and clubs of holiday resorts in the 1990s, the trafficked women are not migrant sex workers.
Typically, they have been tricked into thinking they are coming to better-paid jobs.   "I was told that someone named Veysel would meet me at Antalya airport and take me to my new job," one 31-year-old Moldovan woman told her rescuers.
"Instead he took my passport and took me to a village.   They put a gun to my head and threatened me, and then beat me.   They told me if I didn't consent, they would kill me.   They kept me locked in the house and brought customers to me."
The hotline is publicised in two ways: passport officials at borders and airports slip an information leaflet into the passports of women from high-risk countries; and a Russian language advert has been playing on Turkish television stations.
"Turkey respects your rights," it says.   "If anyone takes away your passport, your freedom, or forces you to perform work of any kind without pay, call the helpline 157, free of charge.   Any time, any phone."

©2005 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd.  All rights reserved

BBC — Monday, 8 September, 2003
Ethiopian girls driven to prostitution
By Damian Zane
BBC, Addis Ababa
HIV/Aids campaign poster at a bus stop in Addis Ababa.

Poster: 'Let's protect ourselves wherever we go'
HIV/Aids campaign poster at a bus stop in Addis Ababa.
Poster: 'Let's protect ourselves wherever we go'
Everyday about 10,000 people pass through the cross-country bus station in the Ethiopian capital to visit relatives, do business or simply search for a better life.
And it is at the bus station where many young girls get drawn into prostitution.
According to a recent survey carried out in Addis Ababa, child prostitution is on the rise.
The report found that partly because of poverty an increasing number of girls come to the city to become sex workers.
Urban migration
The government, being a signatory to the charter on child rights as well as various international labour conventions, is obliged to wipe out what is considered by the United Nations to be the worst form of child labour.
Some clients assume that children between the age of 13 and 14 are free from HIV infection
Amara Dejene
Child Aid Ethiopia (Chadet) is one of the few charities dealing with child prostitution.
Chadet's director Anania Admasu says that many of these girls migrate from rural areas to urban centres in search of better opportunities.
"But not all of them have a chance to track down their relatives, so they end up in the hands of people who take them to the pimps who promise to find them a job," says Mr Admasu.
Just a few hundred metres from the bus station a group of teenagers are playing table tennis at a drop-in centre run by Chadet.
Vulnerable
Here the charity encourages what it considers to be vulnerable youngsters, to relax, use the library, have a shower and get free counselling.
Mekdas Demasay.

Poverty pushes many Ethiopian teenage girls into prostitution.
Mekdas Demasay.
Poverty pushes many Ethiopian teenage girls into prostitution.
Children who may be at risk of becoming prostitutes, as well as young girls who are already prostitutes, come to the centre.
Chadet tries to offer alternatives.   Eighteen-year old Mekdas Demasay, after coming to the centre, has now turned her back on commercial sex work.
But she says that it was poverty which forced her into prostitution three years ago.
"There were many of us in my family and after the death of both my parents we had nothing to eat and I had no choice but get into prostitution," says Ms Demasay.
'Morally degrading'
Being a prostitute meant having sex with many men and I found that morally degrading and damaging to my dignity, she says.
Poverty may be pushing children into prostitution, but according to Amara Dejene who researched the issue, there is also an increased demand for children because of HIV-Aids.
Anania Admasu.

Mr Admasu says many rural girls end up as sex workers in Addis Ababa.
Anania Admasu.
Mr Admasu says many rural girls end up as sex workers in Addis Ababa.
"Some clients assume that children between the age of 13 and 14 are free from HIV infection — and so prefer to have sex with them instead of the older women," says Amara Dejene.
At the drop-in centre, a young girl leads a group counselling session about HIV.
Counselling
Sister Mebrat Yemeruw is the nurse in charge of the counselling, she says that the emphasis is on making young girls better informed, but she never tells people not to be prostitutes.
"I cannot say that because we can't give them food, clothes and accommodation.
"But we explain to them the side effects of prostitution and leave them to choose what they want," says Sister Yemeruw.
Ms Demasay can be considered one of Chadet's success stories.
Instead of being a sex worker she now gets a grant from the charity that has helped her open a small tea-shop, as well as continue schooling.
HIV/Aids campaign poster at a bus stop in Addis Ababa.

Poster: 'Aids orphans need our support'.
HIV/Aids campaign poster at a bus stop in Addis Ababa.
Poster: 'Aids orphans need our support'.
She also works as a counsellor talking to other vulnerable girls.
"I say to teenagers that they are very young and I say that they can't sleep with too many boys," says Demasay.
Alternatives
She explains to the youngsters about the problems of HIV/Aids, the risk of becoming pregnant, which their bodies could not cope with, and to look for alternatives.
But it really is not that simple.
Mekdas is just one of 29 girls out of just over 100 prostitutes that Chadet is working with who have found alternatives.
Nevertheless, Chadet is not giving up and using songs and drama, the charity takes its message on to the streets to try and stop young people turning to prostitution.
Friday, 5 December, 2003
Women smuggled into the UK are often forced into prostitution
By Lucy Ash
   BBC Radio Five Live reporter
Prostitute

Women smuggled into the UK are often forced into prostitution
Women smuggled into the UK are often forced into prostitution
Britain has become a destination of choice for a new and terrifying global trade — young girls from poor countries enticed into the country and then forced to work as prostitutes.
BBC Radio Five Live investigated the trade.
Julia, a 21-year-old from Albania, speaks softly as she describes her ordeal and keeps her eyes on her lap.
Women smuggled into the UK are often forced into prostitution
She was brought up in a remote part of northern Albania.
Her father spent his wages on drink and her mother had to sell her own blood to feed the family.
New life
One day a cousin visited Julia's house and unexpectedly asked for her hand in marriage.
The smartly dressed man with a flashy car promised they would start a new life together abroad.
Sixteen-year-old Julia was a bit nervous of the smooth-talking stranger, but she was also desperate to escape from a life of poverty and from her alcoholic father.
A few days later she discovered there was to be no honeymoon — the man she thought was her fiancé was really her pimp and trafficker.
She was taken to Italy and, after a few months "apprenticeship" on the streets of Milan, was sent to the UK in the back of a lorry.
Almost immediately she was put to work in a squalid flat in London's West End, servicing up to 20 men a night.
Living hell
Once the girl is worn out or she is infected by some sexual disease she is cast aside, just as you would with a broken fridge.
Superintendent Chris Bradford
Whenever she complained she was tired, her pimp beat her or cut her with a knife.   Her body is covered with scars.
"He got very angry with me and said I must work harder, make more money," Julia said.
She was trapped in this living hell for nearly five years, afraid the pimp would kill her if she tried to escape.
She was scared of reprisals against her younger brother and sister.
Asking punters for help got her nowhere, but going to the police was out of the question — she feared they would instantly deport her as an illegal immigrant.
She only escaped when a brothel maid, appalled by her bruises, offered her shelter in her own house for a week.
The police say up to 1,400 women a year are brought into the country illegally to be prostituted and that the trade has become as lucrative as drugs.
New legislation
"Once the girl is worn out or she is infected by some sexual disease she is cast aside, just as you would with a fridge or a washing machine that was broken," said Superintendent Chris Bradford, head of the Metropolitan Police's Clubs and Vice Unit.
"They are nothing more than a commodity," he said.
Police have in the past been criticised for failing to investigate the crime of trafficking.
Prostitute with client

Clients will not help women forced to work as prostitutes.
Clients will not help women forced to work as prostitutes.
Foreign women picked up in brothel raids are sometimes handed straight over to the immigration authorities and deported.
But police say they are on the lookout for trafficking victims.
I follow plainclothes officers from the Clubs and Vice unit, as they "visit" flats and saunas in the West End.
Last month trafficking for sexual exploitation was made a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
That may deter traffickers in the future but what about their victims?
Finally there is a scheme to help women like Julia.
She is living in a safe house far from the part of London where she worked as a prostitute.
She is going to college, learning to read and write in English and is hoping to train as a hairdresser.
Julia is part of a new pilot scheme launched in March this year called the Poppy Project.
Government balancing act
It is funded by the government but run by a women's housing association in south London.
Trafficked women who are referred to the project receive assistance including safe accommodation, health services, counselling and immigration advice.
In return they are expected to co-operate with police to help convict more traffickers.
The government is involved in a tricky balancing act.
On the one hand it wants to show compassion to victims of this crime and help them rebuild their lives.
On the other hand there is strong pressure to cut the number of asylum seekers and crack down on illegal immigration.
But women like Julia are stuck in the middle, fearful of retribution if they are sent home — or if they stay and testify against the men who forced them into prostitution.
BBC — Thursday, 6 May, 2004
Kosovo UN troops 'fuel sex trade'
Brothel

The girls are promised jobs but end up selling sex
Brothel
The girls are promised jobs but end up selling sex
The presence of peacekeepers in Kosovo is fuelling the sexual exploitation of women and encouraging trafficking, according to Amnesty International.
It claims UN and Nato troops in the region are using the trafficked women and girls for sex and some have been involved in trafficking itself.
Amnesty says girls as young as 11 from eastern European countries are being sold into the sex slavery.
A Nato spokesman said some details of the report seemed out of date.
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Moran said some policies had changed. Peacekeepers were "not allowed" off base in civilian clothing or to go to bars and nightclubs, he said.
"Each nation is responsible for the conduct of their soldiers, and if they find a soldier that is breaking the law, it is up to them to bring them to justice," he added.
There has been no comment from the UN.
Trading houses
Amnesty's report, entitled "So does that mean I have rights? Protecting the human rights of women and girls trafficked for forced prostitution in Kosovo," was published on Thursday.
I was forced by the boss to serve international soldiers and police officers
Trafficked woman who spoke to Amnesty
It is based on interviews with women and girls who have been trafficked from countries such as Moldova, Bulgaria and the Ukraine to service Kosovo's sex industry.
They are said to have been moved illegally across borders and sold in "trading houses," where they are sometimes drugged and "broken in" before being sold from one trafficker to another for prices ranging from 50 to 3,500 euros ($60 - 4,200).
The report includes harrowing testimonies of abduction, deprivation of liberty and denial of freedom of movement, torture and ill-treatment, including psychological threats, beatings and rape.
Instead of getting a proper job the women and girls find themselves trapped, enslaved, forced into prostitution.
The report condemns the role of the international peacekeepers.
Slavery
It says that after 40,000 K-For troops and hundreds of Unmik personnel were sent to Kosovo in 1999, a "small-scale local market for prostitution was transformed into a large-scale industry based on trafficking run by organised criminal networks".
The number of places in Kosovo where trafficked women and girls may be exploited, such as nightclubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and cafes, has increased from 18 in 1999 to more than 200 in 2003.
Nato-led Kfor peacekeeping troops guard the United Nation Mission In Kosovo (UNMIK) regional headquarters in Prizren.

What happens in Alaska will affect all other places of the world as a cascading effect
Peacekeepers must be held accountable for their role in this trade in human misery
Kate Allen,
Amnesty International
The report claims international personnel make up about 20% of the people using trafficked women and girls even though its members comprise only 2% of Kosovo's population.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
"Women and girls as young as 11 are being sold into sexual slavery in Kosovo and international peacekeepers are not only failing to stop it they are actively fuelling this despicable trade by themselves paying for sex from trafficked women.
"It is time for countries to stop treating trafficking as a form of 'illegal migration' and see it as a particularly vicious form of human rights abuse."
One woman told Amnesty International: "I was forced by the boss to serve international soldiers and police officers... I never had a chance of running away and leaving that miserable life, because I was observed every moment by a woman."
Criminals
Another told how German soldiers were instructed by their superiors not to go with prostitutes, but went anyway.
"They told the pimp, that if someone would be coming, he should alert them," she said. "After a while the pimp employed a guardian."
Amnesty says that despite some positive measures by the authorities to combat trafficking, the women and girls are often still treated as criminals — prosecuted for being unlawfully in Kosovo, or charged with prostitution.
Amnesty International is calling on the Kosovo authorities, including Unmik, to:
  • implement measures to end the trafficking of women and girls to, from and within Kosovo for forced prostitution
  • ensure that measures are taken to protect the victims of trafficking
  • ensure that those trafficked have a right to redress and reparation for the human rights abuses they have suffered
  • Amnesty says Unmik's own figures show that by the end of 2003, 10 of their police officers had been dismissed or repatriated in connection with allegations related to trafficking.
    In the year and half to July 2003 some 22-27 K-For troops were suspected of offences relating to trafficking, the report says.
    However, Kfor troops and UN personnel are immune from prosecution in Kosovo and those who have been dismissed relating to such offences have escaped any criminal proceedings in their home countries.
    Ms Allen added: "The international community in Kosovo is now adding insult to injury by securing immunity from prosecution for its personnel and apparently hushing up their shameful part in the abuse of trafficked women and girls."
    The organisation called on the UN and Nato to implement measures to ensure that any personnel suspected of criminal offences associated with trafficking are brought to justice.
    SEE ALSO:
    Kosovo mourns violence victims
    22 Mar 04 | Europe
    'Boys will be boys'
    14 Jun 02 | Correspondent
    UN swoops on Kosovo sex trade
    17 Nov 00 | Europe

      November 3, 2005



    The Price of Sex
    Trafficked across the borders of the former Soviet bloc, the forgotten girls and women of Victor Malarek's new book are known in the sex trade as Natashas.
    By Louise I. Shelley
    Published: September 17, 2004
    For those who have observed the astronomical growth of the global sex trade in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe over the past 15 years, the shock of Victor Malarek's "The Natashas" is unfortunately all too familiar.
    But Malarek brings home the severity and tragedy of the phenomenon through the personal stories of women who have been trafficked, his encounters with peacekeepers across the world, and interviews with both men and women who valiantly try to combat the ever-growing phenomenon with little success and, often, great personal cost.
    The most unusual part of this investigation is that it is written by a male.  Malarek's outrage at fellow men who blithely have sex with women whose tortured bodies reveal that they are not willing prostitutes, or at international peacekeepers who boast of the sex slaves they have bought, is a rare occurrence in the trafficking discourse. 
    While many men have written eloquently on the drug trade, human smuggling and the arms market, anti-trafficking literature and activism is dominated by women.  The reasons are obvious — the physical and psychological suffering of young women, often minors, moves other women to demand action from their governments and multilateral organizations.

    The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade
    By Victor Malarek
    Arcade Publishers
    304 Pages. $25
    And yet, with the exceptions of U.S. Congressman Chris Smith and Senators Sam Brownback and Paul Wellstone, who sponsored anti-trafficking legislation in 2000, few men have been as determined activists against the sex trade as Malarek.
    Indeed, Malarek correctly reports, the activists, investigators and NGOs combating the problem at its frontlines are among the few to be admired.  The poor countries that provide most of the trafficked women are too corrupt and indifferent to address the problem, even though, in some of these countries, the loss of women to trafficking is already having demographic consequences, a fact overlooked by Malarek.
    Ironically, recent economic and political advances for women in Western countries have dramatically lowered and jeopardized the status of women from former socialist states.  As fewer domestic women voluntarily enter prostitution in more affluent societies, the demand for foreign workers rises.
    Unfortunately, the richer countries are doing little to reverse the process.  Instead, South Korea has expanded the number of entertainment visas issued to Russians and other foreign women.  These visas are nothing more than a cover for prostitution.  Malarek also neglects to mention that his own country, Canada, has dramatically increased the number of visas issued to dancers, swelling the number of trafficked women.
    Nor has the price for sexual services in Western Europe kept pace with inflation.  As Paul Holmes, one of the world's best anti-trafficking cops, explained to me several years ago when he was still working in London's Charing Cross police station, during the years he fought trafficking, the costs of housing, food and all consumer goods rose dramatically.  Only the cost of sexual services did not go up, testifying to the enormous increase in the availability of prostitutes from Eastern Europe.
    Singling out Germany and the Netherlands as particular magnets for trafficked women, Malarek suggests that the recent legalization of prostitution in those countries merely expanded demand for foreign trade, since Western European women who have alternative job prospects are less willing to seek employment in their countries' huge red-light districts. 
    According to Malarek, the Dutch sex industry now makes up 5 percent of that nation's economy.  There is therefore a financial disincentive in countries such as the Netherlands to address the problem.
    A recent criminological conference in Amsterdam that I attended featured a tour of the city's red-light district meant to highlight the successes of the Dutch regulatory approach.  However, Russian and Ukrainian attendees returned from a lengthy trip to the same neighborhood complaining that all they saw there were women from their own countries.
    The opening plenary address by one of the Netherlands' top organized-crime specialists, Cyrille Fijnaut, echoed concerns that the legalization of prostitution has greatly increased trafficking.  No European country has found the panacea.
    Malarek also discusses the abuse of trafficked women in the Balkans by NATO and by U.S., Canadian, British, Russian and French peacekeepers and DynCorp employees.  In possibly the most moving part of the book, he documents the aborted raids of the United Nations International Police Task Force, the frightened and tortured young girls, and the harassment by their superiors of the few Americans ready to stand up to this mistreatment.
    It is an ugly story, repeated throughout the world wherever peacekeepers are assigned.  The abuse of these women and the profits that accrue to the traffickers merely embed the illegal sex trade more deeply in the community, undermining the democratizing objectives of the peacekeeping missions.
    If locals fail to stand up to the traffickers, it is often because the women imprisoned in the brothels adjoining the peacekeeping missions are imported from countries further east.  Simply referred to as "Natashas," as Malarek explains, the women have already lost their names and identities.
    It is a phenomenon all too familiar in recent European history: dehumanization of the Other and a readiness to overlook gross abuses of foreigners and weaker members of society.  In this respect, as well as in others, sex trafficking recalls the genocides of the mid-20th century.  Like many Holocaust victims who survived World War II, the victims of trafficking are rarely able to rebuild their lives.
    As Malarek points out, some 50 percent of women who escape from their traffickers wind up being retrafficked.  The reasons are clear: Broken by the experience, these women have no other way of earning a living.
    The traffickers who control the business are sophisticated, organized criminals with private intelligence services.  Often, victims on the run are grabbed at airports by elements of the trafficking network and returned to sexual exploitation.  In other cases, the traffickers hunt girls back to their home communities, where their families lack the resources to protect them.  Widespread corruption in the law enforcement agencies of most regions of the former Soviet Union rules out security for these most vulnerable of victims.


    Itar-Tass
    Social advances for women in Western Europe have jeopardized women from former socialist states.
    As one International Organization of Migration official in a major source country explained to me, "we can repair the broken jaws and provide false teeth to replace those knocked out by the traffickers, but there is nothing we can do to heal the psychological damage.  There is no place for the returned trafficking victims in this society."
    The same helplessness could be heard from NGO caregivers in Siberia who had tried to repatriate victims from their region.
    I concur with Malarek's conclusion that, despite new anti-trafficking legislation, an increased awareness among the public, and the significant resources allocated to fight trafficking by both the United States and Western European countries, little success has been achieved in stemming the problem.
    The profits are so enormous, the risk so low for the traffickers and the supply of impoverished women so great that trafficking has expanded almost unhindered to meet the rising demand.
    Can the activism of women in the United States, Western Europe and the source countries be sustained over the years it will take to address the problem?
    The 19th century saw the outlawing and sharp reduction of slavery in many areas of the world as a consequence of significant popular movements.  Perhaps, with such determination, the 21st century will also see a decline in human trafficking, one of the most tragic forms of contemporary slavery.
    Louise I. Shelley is a professor at the School of International Service and the founder and director of the Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at American University (www.american.edu/traccc).  Along with Sally Stoecker, she is an editor of "Human Traffic and Transnational Crime: Eurasian and American Perspectives," to be published later this fall.
    © Copyright 2004, The Moscow Times.  All Rights Reserved.
    A woman trafficked in India

Thousands of women are trafficked into marriage in India each year
    A woman trafficked in India
    Thousands of women are trafficked into marriage in India each year
    Friday, 15 February 2008
    Trafficking: A very modern slavery
    By Stephanie Holmes
    BBC News
    Penny was almost 29 when she was trafficked from Rwanda to the UK, tricked into believing she could start a new life.
    Instead, she ended up trapped in a small flat in south-west London.
    She had unwittingly stepped into a trap laid by a trafficker, becoming a commodity in what campaigners say is the world's fastest growing illegal trade — in people.
    Yet when Penny agreed to meet the agent, introduced to her by a friend, she was unaware that human trafficking even existed.
    "I didn't think about the consequences.   I just took the opportunity to get out of the country," Penny said.
    I was under his control - mentally, physically - I was under his control. I couldn't even sneeze without him knowing
    Penny, trafficking survivor
    "I had never heard what trafficking was all about until I was here.   I didn't know anything about it at all."
    Profitable trade
    Penny's story is just one of many that remain hidden.
    "We don't know much about the size of the iceberg that lies beneath," admitted Antonio Mario Costa, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
    "Like any other market — and it is a perverse kind of market — there is a supply in terms of people who are duped, coerced or tricked, and a demand, people who may be buying the sort of commodities we are talking about.
    "And there is the act of connecting the supply and demand — those who do the trafficking," he said.
    A girl works in a brick kiln in China

Minors are particularly at risk of working in exploitative conditions
    A girl works in a brick kiln in China
    Minors are particularly at risk of working in exploitative conditions
    The UN says governments have fallen behind on commitments to tackle the problem and has called a conference in Vienna this week to urge more concerted action.
    While 116 out of 192 UN member states have ratified an Anti-Trafficking Protocol, which came into force in 2005, some governments still do not have any legislation in place.
    A few of the member states who have not yet even signed the convention include countries identified by UNODC as having a high number of people trafficked from them — such as India and Pakistan.
    Japan too, which scores "very high" as a destination country, has yet to sign the international accord.
    Ruth Dearnley of the coalition of campaigning groups, Stop the Traffik, says human trafficking has never been a top priority for the international community.
    "Enforcement agencies have always focused on the drugs and arms trade but this is the fastest growing global crime," she said.
    "If you make money out of illegal products then, in some ways, people are an easier product than drugs and arms."
    Estimates — which are notoriously difficult to calculate — put the profits of the industry at $31.6bn (£16bn; 21.6bn euros) per year, making it the third largest shadow economy — after drugs and arms.
    Locked up
    Penny was told the journey to the UK would set her back £1,000 pounds ($1,968; 1,347 euros).
    But the fact that she didn't have the sum wasn't a problem.   She was told she would be given both a place to stay and a job when she arrived, enabling her to pay the money back.
    If you make money out of illegal products then, in some ways, people are an easier product than drugs and arms
    Ruth Dearnley, Stop the Traffik
    But the reality was very different.
    "I ended up going with him to his place," she said.
    "I stayed with him that day.   After four days he came on to me and started demanding sex.   I refused, I didn't think that was the kind of deal I had with him."
    "He forced himself on to me, started raping me.   From that day, for about two weeks, it would just be daily."
    Soon, he brought men with him and Penny was forced to have sex with them too.
    Low priority
    Once, she tried to escape, but he tracked her down and beat her badly, locking her in the flat.
    By the end, she remembers: "I was under his control — mentally, physically, I was under his control.   I couldn't even sneeze without him knowing."
    TRAFFICKING IN NUMBERS
    52% of those recruiting victims are men
    49% of profit generated in industrialised economies
    Most trafficked people aged 18-24
    1.2m children trafficked per year
    Source: UNGIFT

    Even once someone has managed to escape the traffickers' trap, British campaigners say authorities are far more concerned about their status as an illegal immigrant, than as a trafficked person.
    Penny, for example — repeatedly imprisoned for not having the right paperwork — is convinced the man who trafficked her is still plying his trade, unmolested by the authorities.
    "The policeman said, 'It's not him, it's you we have to deal with,'" she said.
    "I told them his address.   They had everything.   They weren't interested."
    Nimble fingers
    Crystal Amiss, of London's Black Women's Rape Action Project, said that frequently women's accounts of being trafficked are ignored when they emerge from the underworld and seek asylum.
    Fishermen carry their nets in Ghana

Children — sometimes trafficked — are used to untangle fishing nets
    Fishermen carry their nets in Ghana
    Children — sometimes trafficked — are used to untangle fishing nets
    "The priority is to stop people coming into the country.   They are determined to have robust immigration controls and it is very easy to target people who have to work clandestinely," she said.
    It is not just the sex industry that is fed by traffickers, though the UN estimates that 43% of those trafficked are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation.
    Workers are also exploited in the international textile, food and drink industries, often in the developing world, Mr Costa says.
    Campaigners say, for example, that an estimated 12,000 children are still employed in the Ivory Coast's cocoa plantations.
    Hundreds are sold by their parents to work underwater for fishermen on Ghana's Lake Volta, where their nimble fingers untangle trapped nets.
    The final and common link at the end of a long and complex chain, Mr Costa says, is exploitation.
    "What counts mostly is the exploitation that takes place at several points along the chain as the human trafficking takes place and that is repetitive and prolonged.   That is where most of the violence takes place."
    MMVIII
    ap showing origin countries for human trafficking
    Saturday, 9 July, 2005
    Trafficked to the West
    Jill McGivering
    By By Jill McGivering
    BBC News, Lithuania
    Western Europe is seeing a dramatic increase in the trafficking of young women from Eastern Europe since the expansion of the EU in 2004.
    The UK is cited by many as the main destination and more than half of the women come from Lithuania.
    Prostitute

Prostitution is illegal in Lithuania
    Prostitution is illegal in Lithuania
    She was clearly frightened, sitting hunched on the bottom bunk of a bed which almost filled the tiny room.
    As she spoke, she touched the large crucifix round her neck.   Her hair was coloured with a defiant streak of red.
    Last summer, she had been approached by a childhood friend, she told me.
    He said he knew someone who was recruiting women to work as prostitutes in Holland.
    Prostitution is illegal in Lithuania, but in Holland he said, she would make big money.   Trusting him, she agreed.
    Within weeks she arrived in Holland — only to find herself a prisoner in a brothel — sold by her friend to a Lithuanian gang.
    For months she endured beatings, sexual abuse and a constant stream of clients.
    She saw little of the money she had been promised.   When she escaped back to Lithuania her childhood friend tipped off the gang members.
    They beat her so badly, she almost died.   Today she is in hiding, terrified that her attackers will return.
    Lucrative business
    Soho street.

The UK is the country of choice for Eastern European traffickers
    Soho street.
    The UK is the country of choice for Eastern European traffickers
    British investigators, struggling to keep up with what for them is a relatively new development, say the criminals are making millions.
    Trafficking young women is as profitable as drugs and arms sales but without the same risks.
    And increasingly the young women are being recruited by people they know and trust.
    I heard of women sold by childhood friends, neighbours and even cousins.
    And although many of the women know there will be sex work involved, there are others who simply expect to work as waitresses or au pairs.
    Local case workers told me about two teenage girls in a small village whose neighbour personally reassured their parents the girls would be safe overseas.   She then sold them.
    When they finally escaped from a foreign brothel and returned to the village to accuse her, no-one believed them.
    Many of these cases are simply one person's word against another's.
    And in Lithuania, anyone involved in sex work, even a victim of trafficking, is unlikely to be taken seriously.
    Trawling for women
    In a sprawling prison in rural Lithuania I met one of the few traffickers to be convicted.
    Haroldas slouched in his chair, his prison number round his neck, watched by an armed guard.
    Her story is common here.   Lithuania joined the EU last year.   Since then, the trafficking of young women into Western European brothels has increased dramatically.
    Of course they ended up in brothels, he said, but they must have known what they were getting into
    Yes, he shrugged, he had trafficked women.   He had lost count how many — maybe 12 to 20.
    He described how he travelled round villages, asking about young women who might need jobs and befriending them.
    First I just offered work locally, he said.   Then I would invite them to a party and get to know them.   Finally I would offer them a job abroad.
    Of course they ended up in brothels, he said, but they must have known what they were getting into.
    I asked him if he thought the amount of trafficking was increasing.   "Definitely," he said.   In fact it is growing so fast, he is worried.
    "I've got a daughter," he added.   "I'm frightened she might get caught up in it too."
    He had made roughly £20,000 ($35,000) selling girls — a fortune in Lithuania.   He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
    Lithuania is trying to improve contacts with British investigators — but does not yet have an anti-trafficking unit.  
    The police seem confused about the distinction between trafficking and prostitution.
    Prostitution sting
    In the capital, Vilnius, I joined two police specialists who tipped back lazily in their chairs and with a smirk showed me pictures of semi-naked women offering themselves on the internet.
    They had to balance their anti-prostitution work, they said, with other duties: stopping illegal disposal of oil and prosecuting people who owned more than one cat or dog.
    Finally, they telephoned one of the online prostitutes, agreed a price and set off to trap her.
    Their sting took place in a set of cramped rooms in a filthy housing block.
    When I arrived, two young women were slumped dejectedly on a low sofa, filling in arrest papers.
    The wallpaper was damp and peeling.   Pictures of naked women cut from porn magazines were stuck to the walls.
    Back at the police station, two other women — these Ukrainian women in their 20s — had just been arrested for prostitution.
    They said they arrived in Lithuania the previous week, expecting to work in a massage parlour — only to find they had been sold to a brothel owner.
    Why is trafficking so profitable — and why do British men want to buy sex with very young, very terrified women?
    Case worker
    Afterwards, the police officer shook his head.   He did not believe a word of it, he said.
    In the meantime, young women are being sold into UK brothels in steadily growing numbers.
    Catching the traffickers is one way of tackling it.   But reducing demand is another.
    In Lithuania, I was asked: "What's Britain doing to change attitudes towards prostitution?"
    Or as one case worker asked me: "Why is trafficking so profitable — and why do British men want to buy sex with very young, very terrified women?"
    Tuesday, 10 April 2007
    Assam's missing women and the sex trade
    Assam girls in police station

Many of the missing women end up like these alleged arrested call girls.
    Assam girls in police station.
    Many of the missing women end up like these alleged arrested call girls.
    The biggest problem in India's north-eastern state of Assam is separatist militancy.   But it faces another, less well known issue.   Thousands of its women, old and young, have gone missing over the past 10 years.
    A recent police report says 3,184 women and 3,840 female children have gone missing in the state since 1996.
    That's around two females a day on average.
    The report was compiled by Assam police and their research branch, the Bureau of Police Research and Development.
    The local police are far too busy, according to Assam police intelligence chief Khagen Sarmah, fighting insurgents.
    "Our counter-insurgency commitments affects our normal policing duties like checking trafficking."
    "Too many policemen are involved fighting the insurgents rather than following up on other crimes," Mr Sarmah said.
    'Good looking women'
    The Assam police recently rescued some girls working as call-girls around Delhi or used as "sex slaves" by wealthy landlords in states like Punjab and Haryana.
    Most of them are from camps of internally displaced people dotting Assam, particularly the Kokrajhar district.
    Hindi speaking migrants leaving Assam.

Many people in Assam have fled the area due to the fighting.
    Hindi speaking migrants leaving Assam.
    Many people in Assam have fled the area due to the fighting.
    That area is home to nearly a quarter of a million people who were displaced in the late 1990s.
    Nearly 800 people died in ethnic fighting in Kokrajhar and adjoining districts between Bodo tribes people and non-Bodo communities over a decade long period from 1994.
    The police survey revealed an organised racket of "recruiters" who lured good-looking women with job offers outside the state.
    "We arrested some recruiters but could never put an end to the rackets fully," said police official Anil Phukan.
    The modus operandi is simple: good looking women in the displaced peoples camps are offered jobs.
    The parents are paid a few thousand rupees in advance, and told the daughters will send back money once they start working.
    Once they go away, that rarely happens.
    Money matters
    Jam Singh Lakra of the Jaipur relief camp near Kokrajhar town says: "At least 20 girls have gone away with the jobs from our camp, not to return again."
    "We did identify a few recruiters and one got beaten up. But somehow the girls kept going away."
    Most families are cagey about the missing girls but some do speak up.
    Tuilal Mardi of Tablegaon village says "My parents accepted the offer and sent my sister away."
    "They got a few thousand rupees but she never came back or sent any money."
    Women's rights activist Paula Banerjee, who works on problems of displaced women says: "Ethnic conflicts all over the world results in massive displacement of women and that gives rise to heavy trafficking - the situation in Assam is no different."
    Local pornography
    But not all the missing women of Assam have been taken out of the state.
    Some show up in local pornographic films.
    Assam girls going to van

Some of the girls in the trade are from better financial backgrounds.
    Assam girls going to van
    Some of the girls in the trade are from better financial backgrounds.
    Mala Newar in Kokrajhar was known to her teachers as a "decent, well behaved girl" in school.
    That was until one of them spied on her husband's mobile phone last month and found a video clip featuring Mala in the nude having sex with a stranger.
    Enquiries in Kokrajhar revealed that Mala and some other local girls were used in a pornographic films racket run by a local leader.
    A hotel in the town was used for the filming.
    The girls were first lured into the hotel with job offers, then offered soft drinks laced with sedatives.
    They were then filmed in the nude and blackmailed into doing sex scenes for the camera.
    Not all missing girls in Assam are from displaced peoples camps, though.
    Indrani Bora and Ritu Borgohain are smart, educated English-speaking girls from the Assamese capital, Guwahati, who got jobs in a holiday complex in Gurgaon near Delhi seven months ago.
    But both say they got slowly got drawn into a call girl racket run by the complex owner.
    An officer who led an Assam police team to rescue Indrani and Ritu explains.
    "All across hotels and resorts in places like Delhi and Bombay, you will find hundreds of girls from Assam and other north-eastern states working as waitresses or customer executives.
    "Some do get drawn into the call-girl trade."
    Hunger driven
    The Calcutta Research Group, in its recent study on conflict-induced displacement says that the displaced people in Assam live in acute poverty.
    Assam girls outside police station.

Poverty is the driving force behind women opting for the trade.
    Assam girls outside police station.
    Poverty is the driving force behind women opting for the trade.
    The situation has led the women in particular to desperately seek work elsewhere; even if the offers come from dubious people.
    "This is because the government officials running the camps never created viable livelihood options," says Uddipana Goswami of the Calcutta-based Centre for Studies in Social Sciences (CSSS).
    Ms Goswami has worked on the displaced camps in Assam.
    "Many displaced women have such exquisite craftsmanship but nobody ever tried to convert that into income alternatives," she says.
    Paula Banerjee says trafficking ignores borders therefore solutions cannot be left to local agencies alone.
    "This is not a local or even a national problem."
    "This reflects the global reality, so intervention by international organisations may help check trafficking."
    (Names of the girls have been changed to protect their identity.)
    MMVII
    Unspeakable grief and horror
                            ...and the circus of deception continues...
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    Circus of Torture   2003 — now
    He says, "You are quite mad, Kewe"
    And of course I am.
    Why, I don't believe any of it — not the bloody body, not the bloody mind, not even the bloody Universe, or is it bloody multiverse.
    "It's all illusion," I say.   "Don't you know, my lad, my lassie.   The game!   The game, me girl, me boy!   Takes on interest, don't you know.   T'is me sport, till doest find a better!"
    Pssssst — but all this stuff is happening down here
    Let's change it!
     
     
           Afghanistan — Western Terror States: Canada, US, UK, France, Germany, Italy       
           Photos of Afghanistan people being killed and injured by NATO     

     
     
     
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