THE JAMMED TRUE STORIES OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING BLOG
The aim of this blog is to uncover and present
Following on from the feature film THE JAMMED we intend to select a series of stories from those posted on this blog, and produce a dramatised series of short stories
THE JAMMED is a feature film inspired by court transcripts about sex slavery and deportation in
This is a call for your stories.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Instead, the bright-eyed little girl was sold by her father and became a "doll" in a Mumbai brothel. Asha was only nine when her father sold her to a procurer. She came from a very poor family. Seven children had been born to Asha's parents. They certainly could not afford a girl.
The bright-eyed little girl had no idea what was going on or how her life was about to change forever. She only knew that the lady named Kala had told her she was going on a trip to a very special place, that she would have new clothes, and that she would be working for a nice family who lived in a big house. The lady asked Asha if she was willing to work hard. Asha nodded. "Will you do anything that is asked of you?" Asha said she would try. Asha wanted her family to be proud of her.
The adventure began at the bus station in Katmandu. Asha had never ridden a bus before. Asha wondered how many other girls would be fortunate enough to go to a big city like Mumbai. Perhaps this was what her father meant when he talked about good karma. She couldn't wait to say her pujas (daily prayers), as her father and mother had taught her to give thanks for such good fortune. Asha looked excitedly out the window as the Nepali hills rolled by. The bus trip lasted much longer than she expected - 14 hours just to get to the border town of Nepalgunj.
Once there, they walked across the border where they boarded another bus for the trip to Delhi. Asha asked Kala if they were almost there. Kala told her that Mumbai was very far away and they wouldn't be there for several days. After what seemed like forever, Asha asked again. Kala glowered at the little girl. Asha decided that perhaps she should not ask such questions.
The stifling heat and the exhaust fumes made Asha sick to her stomach. She wondered if Mumbai would be like this. All that day the bus bumped and swayed over the dusty roads of North India. Asha began to realize that wherever Mumbai was, it was a long way from home. She wondered if her parents would come to see her.
Finally, after three days and hundreds of nameless Indian villages, the driver announced the good news - they were in Mumbai. Asha became excited. What will the family be like? What about their big house? When Asha and Kala climbed down from the bus there was no one to meet them. Asha was confused. She looked around. Kala grabbed her hand and nearly jerked her off her feet. "Come, child!"
They walked quickly through the busy station, past the beggars who swarmed the sidewalk outside, and to the taxi stand. Asha had never been in a car. Kala spoke crisply to the driver. "Falkland Road." This must be a very special place, she thought for the driver instantly nodded his head in recognition. It was night when the taxi wound its way through Mumbai's crowded streets, but unlike Nepal, it wasn't dark. Everywhere she looked, Asha saw lights, lots of lights with strange markings. Asha did not know the meaning of the strange markings. She had never been to school.
After an hour's drive, the taxi turned onto what seemed to be the busiest street of all. The taxi stopped. Kala pulled her arm again. "This is where we get out," the woman said crossly. This was a strange place. "Where's the pretty house?" Asha asked shyly. "Quiet!" Kala barked. "This is your new home."
Women and girls lounged in the doorway. Their faces were painted in ways Asha had never seen. Asha stopped and stared. Kala roughly pulled the little girl through the door. They walked down a series of long, poorly lit corridors. Asha could feel the wet garbage under her bare feet, oozing between her toes. There was heaviness in the air. This did not seem like a happy place.
Suddenly, a woman was standing in front of them. "Here she is," Kala said tersely, "That'll be 40,000 rupees" (about $100 U.S.). The woman took Asha to a little room. "This is where you'll stay," the woman declared without emotion as she pushed the child through the door. Asha shivered when she heard the dead bolt slam into place. Something seemed very wrong. Asha felt frightened - and alone. She prayed to the family gods. It didn't seem to help. Asha went to sleep wondering what kind of place she had come to. When she woke up, she couldn't tell whether it was day or night because her room had no windows.
After a long while, the woman returned. She sat down on the bed and opened a little bag. She started putting make-up on Asha's face. Asha winced. A few minutes later the woman came back with a man. The woman told Asha what to do. Asha did not want to do such things. The woman slapped her. Asha cried. The woman slapped her again. "No! No! I will not do such things." The woman cursed Asha in Nepali and then left.
A few minutes later, she returned with another man. His lip curled in a mocking snarl. She had never seen such a look. "So, you don't want to work, eh?" He pulled off his belt and began to beat Asha. He beat her until the pain filled her body. Then he left. Asha curled up on her cot and whimpered softly.
Later that day the woman came back. "Ready to work, little doll?" Asha cried and pleaded with her. "Please don't make me do those things." The man with the belt came back. Three times that day he beat her. When the time came to eat, they brought nothing to Asha. Still the little girl resisted. The torture lasted for days. Without light, Asha lost track of time. Without food she grew weak.
One of the other girls told Asha it was useless to resist. She told Asha of another girl who had been put in a room with a cobra until she changed her mind about doing as she was told. It didn't take long, the girl reported. "The gods have forgotten you. This is your fate," the girl said sadly. Frightened, exhausted and hungry, Asha surrendered.
In those first days, Asha often cried herself to sleep, wishing she was back in her village, homesick for her mother. She hated life in the brothel, hated what she saw, hated what she did. She hated what happened to the other girls - especially the sick ones. But the tears grew less and less, and Asha became accustomed to her new life.
Seven years passed. Seven years without seeing her mother or brothers. Seven years in what she and the other girls called "that place." Seven years watching girls become sick with the "Bombay Disease." Seven years of watching them turned out on the streets to die. Asha dreamed of buying her freedom and going home to Nepal, but she knew there was little hope of that.
By her sixteenth birthday, Asha had forgotten what hope was. Until she met a man named Devaraj. Devaraj was different than the other men she had known. She met him at a small church near Falkland Road. There he taught messages of hope that lifted her spirits. He talked of freedom. She visited there as often as she could. She longed more than ever to be free from Falkland Road, but she still lacked the money to pay the "investment" the brothel owner had made in her.
One night after service, Devaraj told Asha she could leave the district. Asha could hardly believe what she was hearing. "How is this possible?" Asha asked. Devaraj explained that some "friends" had given a gift to purchase her freedom. In a few days, Asha left the brothel that had been her home since she was a young girl and moved into a "Home of Hope." Now she is learning how to live. She is learning a new trade. And thanks to people who care, Asha's life is no longer surrounded by pain and disappointment. It is full of hope and optimism for the future.
When Mike McGill read Asha's story in 1999, he started the Asha Forum. What will your response be?www.protectionproject.org
Friday, October 10, 2008
Shauna Newell was fortunate when she was abducted two years ago. Thanks to her mother and Klaas’ organization, which organized a search for her, she was rescued after three days. She’s gone public to warn other girls about how easy it is to be kidnapped and trafficked.
A typical 16-year-old in a middle-class home in suburban Pensacola, Fla., Newell’s nightmare began innocently enough: A new friend she had met in high school asked her to come to her home for a sleepover.
Newell’s mother, Lisa Brant, didn’t like the idea, but after weeks of lobbying by her daughter, Brant met with the girl and the man she said was her father to make sure her daughter would be safe.
But the girl’s “father” was really a convicted felon, and the girl, who had a record of prostitution in Texas, was an accomplice in the abduction. “Her dad took us to this house and said he'd be right back and he left us there,” Newell recounted in a taped interview. “And I asked for some water because I was thirsty. And I drank the water and I blacked out.”
The water had been laced with a drug. When she woke up, Newell was groggy and couldn’t move.
“My legs were being held down, and the guy that was raping me was holding my hands back,” she said in a quiet voice. “I kept screaming, ‘Stop, please don't do this. Leave me alone.’ But I was so weak, I couldn't fight them off. Like I was, I was so really out of it. And I blacked out a few times and I kept coming back to. And I was still being raped every time I woke up.”
Left alone for a moment, Newell managed to call her mother.
“My cell phone rang. And all I heard was, ‘Mommy, help me,’ ” Brant said. “And the phone went dead. And I freaked!”
Lisa Brant, whose daughter, Shauna Newell, was abducted and gang-raped.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------She called police, but they told her that Newell had probably run away from home, and they wouldn’t be able to treat it as a missing-person case until 72 hours had elapsed.
“He was like, 'Oh, well, you know, there's nothing I can do. You know teenagers,’ ” Brant said.
A stroke of luck
With law enforcement unwilling to act, Brant and Newell’s siblings started their own search. They were fortunate in that Brad Dennis, an investigator for KlaasKids, was based in the area because the Florida Panhandle is an epicenter of human trafficking.
By sheer luck, one search party stopped at a convenience store for something to drink, and Newell’s 14-year-old brother spotted his sister in the back seat of another car that had stopped at the same store. She was rescued, but her abductors managed to flee.
After three days of being raped and beaten and drugged, Newell was dirty, bloody, bruised and barely alive. She was airlifted to a hospital and had to be resuscitated twice. In addition to her serious injuries, she had been infected with an STD.
Newell said that her captor told her she had been sold on the Internet for $300,000 to a man in Texas. Fortunately, she was rescued before delivery could be made. During Newell’s ordeal in Florida, her captor took money from a number of men who raped her. When she screamed, he held a gun to her head and threatened to blow her brains out.
Afraid for her life, Newell later moved in with her boyfriend and now has a child of her own. Her family continues to lobby for national legislation that will provide aid for Americans forced into the sex trade similar to aid that is provided for girls and boys who are brought into the country and forced into prostitution.
Vieira asked Lisa Brant what advice she has for other girls.
“Listen to your parents. Just don’t stop believing. Be strong,” she said. “Follow what your parents say fully, fully. There are people out there who will help you. Speak up. Everybody needs to speak up. Girls that have gone through this, they’re scared.”
An in-depth report by Morales on “Sex Slaves in the Suburbs” premieres at 10 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 12 on MSNBC.
For more information about the KlaasKids Foundation, visit klaaskids.org.
Marc Klaas, whose KlaasKids Foundation works to stop crimes against children.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thursday, October 2, 2008
by William Finnegan
A Mafia boss in Kiev may be living on a cut of the proceeds from your exploitation, but your personal hell will very likely start, if you’re Moldovan, with a betrayal by a friend or a relative angling for a commission. You might even be sold into prostitution by the person sleeping next to you.
“I wanted money, and I was deceived,” Lena said. (Some of the names in this article have been changed.) She was from a village in northern Moldova. She had high, thin eyebrows and a worn face. “I was nineteen. My boyfriend told me I could be a waitress in Portugal. We had been together for a year and a half.” Her boyfriend organized her trip, paid her airfare, drove her to Odessa, and put her on a plane to Lisbon. A friend of his met her flight, and told her that the waitress job had fallen through. He offered to take Lena to Dubai, where there was, he said, more work. He seemed trustworthy, and they flew there together. An Arab met them in Dubai, and the next day a woman from Uzbekistan took her to an apartment.
“That was when I realized I had been sold,” Lena told me. “Because she gave money to the Arab guy, and my passport was taken.” There were six Moldovan women already at the Uzbek woman’s place. They were working, they said, as prostitutes in discos, all paying off travel debts that the “she-pimp,” as Lena called her, claimed they owed her. Their clients were mostly Arabs and Russians. “The she-pimp was very aggressive,” Lena said. “She beat disobedient girls.” Lena was put to work.
She ended up spending a few years in Dubai, on and off the street, in and out of jail. After escaping with two other women, Lena went to the police, who arrested her. The Uzbek woman declined to hand over the passports of her ex-workers, and went on with her thriving business. Lena phoned her mother from jail but got no help. When the police released her, after a month, Lena was penniless. She went back to work as a prostitute, now freelance. Later, she fell in love with an Egyptian waiter named Salim, moved in with him, and quit sex work. But then she was arrested during a police sweep for having no documents. She was three months pregnant at the time. Making matters worse, the police registered her as a Kazakhstani, because a group of women caught in the same sweep were from Kazakhstan. It took the authorities more than a year to identify and, finally, deport her. In the meantime, she had given birth in jail. Salim never visited her, never saw his son. Lena was not able to reach him, even by phone. “Maybe he was afraid of the police,” she said quietly.
Now she was living with her grandmother and her son, who had just turned three, back in the village, and looking for work. She had still not heard from Salim. “I have given up hope,” she said. She had been helped, she said, by a psychologist at an American-funded women’s center, where I interviewed her. “We talk about what happened in Dubai,” she said. She thought that the old boyfriend who sold her to the traffickers was still around, but she had no interest in filing a complaint against him. She was twenty-four now, and had a child to raise. The New Yorker.
Rotaru fished out a file. “This is great,” she declared. “Here we have a woman, Violeta. She was trafficked to the Balkans long ago. Her husband first contacted us in December, 2006. He lives in a village in Transnistria with their daughter. The girl cannot remember her mother, but she cries for her all the time. Anyway, we have found her!”
Violeta had answered a newspaper ad offering a waitress job in Italy in 2000. She travelled as far as Albania, on forged papers, but never made it to Italy. She was sold into prostitution in Kosovo. There she worked as a stripper in bars and night clubs, and eventually escaped from her captors after a police raid. Now she was living in a shelter in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, and wanted to come home. “This is one of the cases that make me want to jump for happiness,” Rotaru said.
Maria didn’t strike me as someone at risk for re-trafficking. The reason was partly her shattered body, but mostly it was her strength of mind. Now in her thirties, she has long red hair, big clear eyes, and a lopsided grin. She grew up in a village near Chisinau and was trafficked to Turkey in 1999. She remembers the staircase that led to the room, on the sixth floor of an apartment building in Istanbul, where she found out that she had been sold into prostitution. A woman who was with her started weeping. Maria looked to the window. There were curtains blowing in on a breeze. She crossed to the window, stepped between the curtains, and jumped. When she hit the ground, she broke both legs and both arms.
She found a job at a pizza place, where she met a reasonable man. Now they lived together, in Chisinau, with her daughter. Her boyfriend was working in construction. Maria had big plans—to buy the little house they rented and turn the front half into a shop. “I have such a desire for life,” she told me. When she first came to La Strada, Maria gratefully accepted psychotherapy but turned down an offer of clothes. “I said, ‘Please buy books for my daughter instead.’ ” She and Budeci went together to bookstores to choose titles. Maria only finished the eighth grade, but she wants her daughter to go to university. The girl was now fourteen. “She is going through adolescent crisis,” Maria said. “It’s hard for me to understand her disobedience. I was so obedient.”
I talked to Maria for hours, although she let her psychotherapist, Alina Budeci, who works for La Strada, tell me about what happened in Turkey. Talking about it was too much like reliving it, she said. Maria preferred to talk about her family, and the life that brought her to Turkey.
She had been a teen-age bride, “stolen” by a boy whom she hardly knew. “I tried to run away, but his male friends all stopped me,” she said. “If a boy steals you like this and you don’t get married, it’s a great shame to your family and you.” Her parents, who were peasants, agreed to the match.
The marriage was a disaster. Maria gave birth at eighteen, but her husband drank, beat her, and could not hold a job. “The only happy thing concerning him was my daughter. Otherwise, I hate him.” Her mother counselled her to obey her husband. “She used to say, ‘You have to listen to him, because the sword doesn’t cut the bowed head.’ That’s a saying in Moldova.” (A similar adage, which I heard more than once in Moldova, goes “The woman who is not beaten is like a house that is not cleaned.”) After several years of abuse, Maria fled. She left her daughter with her parents and headed to Odessa, where she sold rug-cleaning machines and other products on the street. Her husband pursued her to Ukraine, and she returned to him briefly, but he drank up her savings and beat her. She went next to Romania, where she found work as a waitress. She returned to Moldova to see her daughter.
Here her narrative broke off. Tears streamed down her face. “Those years when my daughter needed me the most, I wasn’t there,” she said. The troubles with her husband resumed, and Maria and her daughter went to live with her parents. She decided to get a divorce.
“Then a woman came to the village offering jobs in Turkey,” Maria said.
After a long stay in an Istanbul hospital, she returned home. “I was not really a human being,” she said. “I could not walk, could not work.” Despite several surgeries and rehabilitation, she still walks with a great deal of pain. She put off one operation she needed, she said, when she came to believe that the local doctor wanted to remove the main steel pin in her leg only because it was high-quality metal, which he could resell.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
"My name is Marsha, and I am from Southern Russia. In 1996, when I was 24, I visited St. Petersburg. I was preparing to return home to my village, waiting at the train station one day when a woman approached me. She started talking with me about life problems, encouraging me to share mine with her. We had a nice talk, and the woman suggested that she could help me to get work somewhere abroad. She told me she had an acquaintance in Germany, a woman who could connect me with a family for whom I could be a housemaid.
I was issued a tourist visa to Spain, and left on a bus tour of Europe in February 1997. I was supposed to get off the bus in Germany. There I was met by a woman named Geanna, who had a flat in Hamburg. She took me to an apartment there, where I met about 20 other girls who had come from Russia and Poland. Most of them were younger than me. After a few days, Geanna told me she could not find a family who would hire me as a housemaid. She said I owed her 2,000 German marks (about $1,000 USD) and said that I would earn that money by providing sexual services to men. I was shocked.
I was afraid to say no because she had taken my passport, and I didn't know any German. She and her husband, who was a drug dealer, threatened to beat me if I tried to leave, and said if I went to the police, I would be deported. They said no one would care what happened to me, and no one would help. Girls who would not cooperate were taken down to the basement of the bar, where they were beaten across their backs, where it would not show but would still be painful, possibly causing damage to their kidneys. I was afraid they would use drugs and alcohol to force me to prostitute myself -- I had seen other girls given cocaine and beaten into submission. Geanna tried to tell me that it didn't happen, but her husband threatened that I would suffer the same if I did not go along with it.
Downstairs from our apartment, there was a bar where we were to find clients for sex. I tried not to attract attention by dressing modestly and sitting by myself. The girls who had come to Germany knowing they would be prostitutes were regularly beaten. Our passports were kept behind the bar, but we were afraid to take them because big guards supervised us all the time. The bar had surveillance cameras on the bar, and the road so they could see clients or police coming.
I was kept there for two months, and never made much profit. I had only a tourist visa, good for one month, but Geanna told me she could prepare documents that would say I was married to a German man. She would do this so I would have to stay longer and work for her. I refused; so instead, she sold me to a Greek pimp who was operating in Germany.
Shortly after that, the police raided the bar and I was taken, along with the other girls, to the station. I was not given a chance to explain what had happened to me -- that I never wanted to be there, that I was tricked, threatened and intimidated into staying. Instead, I was charged with prostitution and held in a jail cell. I was issued an order to leave Germany, or face deportation. The Greek pimp then gave me money for a ticket back to Russia. Some would say that he took pity on me, but in reality this helped him to avoid being arrested and charged with pimping. He was never charged, and the German police never attempted to do anything about the network of people who had trafficked me -- from the woman who recruited me, to the agent who got me the visa, to the Russian woman pimp and her husband."
- Marsha, trafficked in Germany, originally from Russia;
Testimony before US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 2000
"I'll call myself Maria in this story. This is a real story about my life and I am not the only one who could be named that name. There are many Marias like I am and that is the reason to bring this story to daylight - to stop 'Maria's Story' happens again. I come from a little village in Albania where my parents and my sisters still live. They probably think I am dead, and I hope so. It is easier than the truth; I have done things they never can imagine. I shall never see them again.
It was only four years ago when a young man from Skopje came into my father's shop. He was very polite and well dressed and he asked about life in our town. When I said there was little to do, my father asked if he was there to talk or to buy something. My father is very old fashioned and he was always protecting me from boys, which I did not like. I was almost 17 years old and did not need my father's protection. The smile the young man gave me said he understood. But he talked to my father politely, paid for some items and I saw him going away in a Mercedes Benz car. I was very angry with my father and many time think of the young man in his expensive car.
Perhaps two weeks after, the young man arrived again. This time my father was away to cafe and we talked (Later, I wonder if he watched the shop to see my father going out...). His name was Damir and he spoke of the famous cities he often visited. Rome, Paris, Madrid and many other ones, I could only dream about. I said how much I wanted to see them and Damir said how he works for a modeling agency that looks for pretty girls like I was (My face became red but I enjoyed him to say such things...). To live and work in Paris!!! If I wanted to do it, he would arrange for colleague to speak with my parents. I was very excited and said yes. Some days passed and woman entered the shop. She was Damir's colleague. Her jewelers and expensive clothes made me embarrassed of my own. She spoke to my parents and showed them a contract. I will earn certain amount of money, so much to me for living and the rest to my parents. When my father asked about safety, Vanja said how young models live together and always with chaperone. I beg them to allow me and finally my father signed. I remember he was very sad about me going away. Vanja took me to a photo shop for passport photos and said Damir hope to see me soon. I was in Heaven! The next week Vanja returned. In her car were two other girls, one gypsy girl, younger than me and another Albanian, little older. I kissed my parents goodbye. It was last time I saw them.
We drove some hours to Durres on the coast of Adriatic sea. Damir was waiting for us... The other girls knew him also and I was already jealous, but too excited to be angry. He had our new passports but told us he must keep them. It was first time I saw the sea and first time in a ship. It seemed very big and beautiful. We followed Damir, who had our tickets and travel documents. He spoke with official and gave him something before we went into the ship and down many stairs. I thought we were near the engine - the smell of oil was very strong, also rotten food and the smell of clothes not washed in long time. He said for our safety he must lock the door but will return in the morning. Two of us had to share a bed, but only for one night and next day we shall come to Italy! The sound of the engine was very loud and soon the ship was moving very fast. We wished to talk about the handsome men we are going to meet and how the girls at home will be jealous, but the bad smells and moving ship make me and gypsy girl very sick.
The next morning we arrived in Bari. Damir took us to a house where the streets are dirty and we see beggars and even rats during the day. We were nervous because we expecting something very different than that. When we enter the house it smelled as bad as the ship. There were many girl's magazines, wine bottles and cigarettes on the floor. Some men were sitting inside, they laughed and looked at us in bad way and speak to Damir in Italian, which we did not understand. I asked him who they are, but the polite young man from my father's shop grab my arm and said something very bad in Albanian. He hit me on the face. I fell on the ground and he pulled me by hair into a room and hit me more than once until my face start bleeding. I did not understand what has happened. I heard other girls screaming. And then he raped me. Than the other men came in and did the same. After that event, each day the same men came again, and then the others, who paid money to be with us. If we said no, Damir would hit and kick us and gave us no food. He said THIS was modeling we must do for anyone they say.
He paid for our passports and documents. They belong to him and to be without them in foreign country means going to prison if police find us. If we try escape, he and his friends will kill us and no one will ever know. If we succeed and go to police, bad things will happen to our families and everyone will hear we are prostitutes. He laughed and and said how we were stupid girls from farms. He asked what our parents and friends would say if they knew with how many men we have been already!? It was very cruel to make us feel ashamed for what he make us to do.
One night Damir took me and the gypsy girl to the truck and said another man own us now and if we thought he was a bad man, this man is worse, so we better do always what he says. He gave our passports to this man and we travel all night and next day until Marseille in France, where we stayed in the house with the other girls. There I learnt if I am quiet and do what he says I won't be punished and some given drugs to make them addicts. If they are bad, they do not have the drugs they wanted.
I was in Marseille almost one year and sold to a man and a woman who took me to Amsterdam. I slept in a small room with no heat and little food, sometimes only what is left over from their meals. Sometimes I did not eat for one or two days. They are drug addicts and would forget about me - except to bring men. When there were no customers, the man would hit me and burn me with cigarettes and force me to do things sometimes with the woman there also. He said this to make me remember he is the master.
I made no trouble and after some time the woman take me to carry her shopping. I liked these shopping trips with her and did everything se wanted me to do - it was wanderful to be away from my small, cold room. After some time she began to give me some small money for treats. One day I saw a poster about charity for women. I begin to pray that I will find them and they will help me. But I was frightened because I have no papers. my owners always said to me how without the passport I will go to prison and then sent to Albania if the police find me. Even after more than two years I cry with shame of my life and shame of my parents if they ever know about me.
One day the woman was looking at clothes. She gave me small money to buy a treat. But I found a telephone and with the money called the number of the charity. It was difficult to understand me but Bulgarian came to the telephone and asked where I am. SHE SAID SHE WAS COMING FOR ME !!!!!
Now I work for this charity more than one year and help girls like me. I talk to them every day, and I tell them they must make a new life. They weep very much. I also, but wait until night so they do not see. We all want to go home but we cannot. The shame for our parents and us is too large. I dreamed to be a model. Now I dream about a nice man but what man will marry me? Even if he accepts what happen to me I can never have children because of it. It is difficult to smile.
My new friends in the charity all say the girls like us must be warned. My Bulgarian friend says parhaps the way is Internet. There is little money needed for making website and my English is not good but she helps me. We hope many people will find it."
- Maria, trafficked in France & Italy, originally from Albania
Special Thanks to: Ex Oriente Lux
Original Source: Human Peril
Gina was a young child -- only nine years old -- living with her family in a small village in Nepal. However, unlike Asha, Gina wasn't sold. She was stolen.
Drugged with a "sweet drink" by a friend, Gina awoke on a train – never to see her family again. When Gina arrived in Bombay after a three-day journey, she remembers being grabbed by the hand, rushed down a crowded street through "a sea of legs" to a dingy brothel. They put makeup on her face and then the "seasoning" process began.
She was repeatedly raped, beaten and starved until she was too afraid to leave her new "home." (Businesses have sprouted up all over Bombay whose sole purpose it is to perform seasonings for brothel owners.)
Because of Gina's young age, she was held out by her owners as a virgin -- again and again. Sexual encounters counted as many as 40 per day. Younger girls like Gina -- especially virgins -- command a higher price in the brothels.
Recently, Shared Hope International helped pay Gina's debt and brought her into one of our newly-opened Homes of Hope. There she is getting the physical and emotional care she needs to start a new life. She is learning skills that will help her become self-sufficient.
- Gina, trafficked in India, originally from Nepal
Special Thanks to: Protection Project
Original Source: Shared Hope International
"I met my boyfriend at my girl-friend’s house. He had been dating me for a month already when he told me he was going to marry me. My boyfriend told me we could earn some money for our wedding if we went to work in Greece at his friend’s company.
We would stay for three months there to earn enough money and come back. I was extremely happy. I could not believe all that was happening to me. He took my passport and all necessary papers and said that he would take care of visa and travel arrangements. I was so happy and careless that I did not even ask to see the tickets or documents. The day of departure came. We took the plane and instead of Greece we landed in Dubai. As I had not been abroad before I could not really understand where I was. I could only recognize the Arabic signs and people dressed in Arabic robes. When I asked why we landed in Dubai he said we would have to stay for a couple of days in Dubai, and then later we would go to Greece. He took me to a hotel and said that he was going to see his friend and would be back soon. Two hours later a man came to take me to another hotel saying that I was his property. I could not understand, I kept saying that it was a misunderstanding and that my friend would come soon. I had come to Dubai for another purpose. The man told me that my friend had sold me to him, that from now on he would have my documents and I had to do whatever he told me to. He said that the next day I had to move to another place and serve all the clients he would send to me. I was shocked by what was happening. The next day he came and took me to another hotel. He said that every day I had to give him $500, no matter how many clients I would serve. He was so violent. It was a continuous hell. Each day I served around 30 to 40 clients. I was not able to move or think. It went on for weeks. I was living between clients and tears. That was the rhythm of my life. I could not even realize what they wanted from me. The intensity of the process lasted for a couple of weeks. One day I got terribly sick. He left me alone and sent another Armenian woman to visit me. That day I understood that it was an organized enterprise and that there were many women from many countries who shared the same fate.
Meanwhile the pimp refused to give back my passport because of the debts he said he had incurred on account of me. I had to work and earn money if I wanted to go back home. Then he introduced me to another man telling me that he had sold me to him and that I had to take my passport from him. The next day I was beaten like for the first time. He was an extremely cruel man. He came every morning to pick up his money and beat me terribly. I had no right to speak or express my concern, everybody knew him well for his cruelty. I did not receive any money from him. He did not even buy food. It all depended on the client’s will. I was resold four times.
One of my clients was trying to kill me. If it were not for the women in the next room I would have been killed. In his frenzy the man was beating me. He squeezed my throat.
Luckily enough there was a police raid in the hotel where I was working and I was taken together with other women to a police station and detained. My pimp did not do anything to release me from prison. I spent four months there. Though it was prison and the conditions were terrible, it was incomparable with what I had gone through before that. Nobody was cruel or rude to me there and I had to wait while my temporary documents from Armenia and the ticket for deportation were arranged. I came back without any money. All I had before remained with the pimp, I could not pick up anything. The most shameful thing happened at Yerevan airport. Everybody was treating me as if I were a prostitute, saying bad words. My life has changed since that time. Now you see me here in the street. I have become a real prostitute."
- Alina, trafficked in the UAE, originally from Armenia
Special Thanks to: Ex Oriente Lux
Original Source: IOM. "Trafficking in Women and Children from the Republic of Armenia: A Study" (2001).
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: September 24, 2008
World leaders are parading through New York this week for a United Nations General Assembly reviewing their (lack of) progress in fighting global poverty. That’s urgent and necessary, but what they aren’t talking enough about is one of the grimmest of all manifestations of poverty — sex trafficking.
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof
"As long as women are few among world leaders, it will be hard to tackle a problem which men ... regard as a pleasant facility."
Barbara Reader, New York
This is widely acknowledged to be the 21st-century version of slavery, but governments accept it partly because it seems to defy solution. Prostitution is said to be the oldest profession. It exists in all countries, and if some teenage girls are imprisoned in brothels until they die of AIDS, that is seen as tragic but inevitable.
The perfect counterpoint to that fatalism is Somaly Mam, one of the bravest and boldest of those foreign visitors pouring into New York City this month. Somaly is a Cambodian who as a young teenager was sold to the brothels herself and now runs an organization that extricates girls from forced prostitution.
Now Somaly has published her inspiring memoir, “The Road of Lost Innocence,” in the United States, and it offers some lessons for tackling the broader problem.
In the past when I’ve seen Somaly and her team in Cambodia, I frankly didn’t figure that she would survive this long. Gangsters who run the brothels have held a gun to her head, and seeing that they could not intimidate Somaly with their threats, they found another way to hurt her: They kidnapped and brutalized her 14-year-old daughter.
Three years ago, I wrote from Cambodia about a raid Somaly organized on the Chai Hour II brothel where more than 200 girls had been imprisoned. Girls rescued from the brothel were taken to Somaly’s shelter, but the next day gangsters raided the shelter, kidnapped the girls and took them right back to the brothel.
Yet Somaly continued her fight, and, with the help of many others, she has registered real progress. Today, she says, the Chai Hour II brothel is shuttered. In large part, so is the Svay Pak brothel area where 12-year-old girls were openly for sale on my first visit.
“If you want to buy a virgin, it’s not easy now,” notes Somaly, speaking in English — her fifth language.
Somaly’s shelters — where the youngest girl rescued is 4 years old — provide an education and job skills. More important, Somaly applies public and international pressure to push the police to crack down on the worst brothels, and takes brothel owners to court. The idea is to undermine the sex-trafficking business model.
In her book, Somaly recounts how she grew up as an orphan and was “adopted” by a man who sold her to a brothel. Once when Somaly ran away, the police gang-raped her. Then her owner, on recovering his “property,” not only beat and humiliated her but tied her down naked and poured live maggots over her skin and in her mouth.
Yet even after that, Somaly occasionally defied him. Once two new girls, about 14 years old, were brought in to the brothel and left tied up. Somaly untied them and let them run away. For that, she was tortured with electric shocks.
As Cambodia opened up, Somaly began to get foreign clients, whom she vastly preferred because they didn’t beat her as well, and she began learning foreign languages. Eventually, a French aid worker named Pierre Legros and she got married, and together they started Afesip, a small organization to fight sex trafficking. They have since divorced, and Somaly works primarily through the Somaly Mam Foundation, set up by admiring Americans to finance her battle against trafficking in Cambodia. It’s a successful collaboration between American do-gooders with money and a Cambodian do-gooder with local street smarts.
The world’s worst trafficking is in Asia, but teenage runaways in the United States are also routinely brutalized by their pimps. If a white, middle-class blonde goes missing, the authorities issue an Amber Alert and cable TV goes berserk, but neither federal nor local authorities do nearly enough to go after pimps who savagely abuse troubled girls who don’t fit the “missing blonde” narrative. The system is broken.
A bill to strengthen federal anti-trafficking efforts within the U.S. was overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives, led by Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York. But crucial provisions to crack down on pimping are being blocked in the Senate in part by Senators Sam Brownback and Joe Biden, who consider the House provisions unnecessary and problematic. (Barack Obama gets it and says the right things about trafficking to the public, but apparently not to his running mate.)
With U.N. leaders this week focused on overcoming poverty, Somaly is a reminder that we needn’t acquiesce in the enslavement of girls, in this country or abroad. If we defeated slavery in the 19th century, we can beat it in the 21st century.
I invite you to visit my blog, www.nytimes.com/ontheground, and join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kristof.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
June 15, 2006
By Ankica Barbir Mladinovic
A Moldovan newspaper ad offering employment to young women (RFE/RL)
ZAGREB, June 15, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation is becoming increasingly widespread in countries undergoing transition. Many young women seeking better jobs and better lives find themselves against their will in secret brothels of Western countries. Such is the warning of nongovernmental women’s unions in Croatia, where 45 victims of trafficking have been identified in the last four years. Unofficial numbers are many times greater.
"It happened abroad," says Martina, a 29-year-old trafficking victim from Zagreb. "I was sold for 3,500 euros [$4,400]. I was beaten, raped, forced against my will. They would put out cigarette butts on me and cut me with razors.
It was like a horror movie, she says. Martina was 19 years old at that time, trained as a cook. She lived in the suburbs of Zagreb and desired a better job and a better life. She met a young man who told her about his brother who had a restaurant in Italy, but who had a hard time finding good employees.
'It Sounded Rather Convincing'
“He told me that if I really wanted to work I could come with him, but that if I did not intend to pursue work there I could be back in Croatia in three days," Martina said. "It sounded rather convincing. Given that my life had been miserable since I was born -- my father was an alcoholic and my mother ill -- I went there without a second thought."
"As soon as I arrived and as soon as he brought me to his apartment, everything started. He told me there was no work and that I had crossed the border in order to work as a prostitute, that he had paid a ton of money for me and that he will come for me in three days, and that I had to be ready by then," she continued. "I told him to get his mother ready instead, and then he hit me on the head with his fist. Since we were in the kitchen I turned around and struck him with a pot. Naturally, I was no match for him physically. He beat and raped me constantly for three days, to the point where I was lying in blood and urine while tied to a bed. He then brought two of his friends who raped me, put out cigarette butts on me, and cut me with razors.”
Martina was locked in a Rome apartment for two months. Instead of working in a restaurant, she was beaten and raped daily until she was “broken” and had become a sexual slave. Then, she says, the man who bought her took her out to the street.
“That man was from Bosnia," she said. "We found in his apartment four passports and another girl from Croatia who was also a mother of three. That was a complete horror. They beat me endlessly. A girl of 16 from Albania almost bled to death in my arms because they had pushed a car antenna into her vagina. A girl from Bosnia was found dead. That is when I completely broke down.”
Two prostitutes appearing in a World Cup-related advertisement in Halle, Germany (epa)
She said she had been completely dulled, as if separated from her own body. Even when there was a chance of escape she remained a prostitute.
“There was no way for me to be freed from what had happened to me," Martina said. "I endured this for six years. I went to the street with prostitutes, not in order to work, but to see the people who come to them and who force them to do this. Then I would throw a bottle of gasoline on their car or puncture their tires. I didn’t care what would happen. I did one or three customers -- I didn't care. I didn’t look at those people.”
Martina was a typical, vulnerable young woman without steady employment or family support. Nobody wondered about her disappearance. After all, even her own father beat her from a very young age. Sadly, that experience prepared her for what she endured in Rome.
'That Is How I Distanced Myself'
“I rehearsed this since I was six," Martina said. "I recited 'The Pit,' a poem by Ivan Goran Kovacic, persistently to myself as my father beat me with roots from the vineyard or his military belt, as he would throw me against a wall or door, or kick me with his military boots. That was my defense. That is how I distanced myself. Although I would bleed, having been burnt all over with cigarette butts, I would distance myself from all that.”
Today, Martina is 29 years old. She lives in Zagreb and has a 7-year-old son. She is still undergoing therapy.
'A Cup Of Coffee Saved My Life'
“I started to work on a regular job in Zagreb," she said. "However, since I’m not psychologically strong I break down very easily. The owner once pinched me on my behind. I hit him with a frying pan and called his wife. I left. But one cup of coffee saved my life. I was already looking out the window and thinking about jumping.”
Martina was offered that cup of coffee by activists from the Center for Sexual Rights/Women’s Room and the Center for Women Victims of War (ROSA). For the first time in her life, she says, somebody approached her without scorn.
“If it weren’t for them, I don’t know how our life would have continued, the life of all of us who were tortured, mistreated, sold in different ways," she said. "We can reach a particular point on our own, and when we cannot go any further we all need a ferry, a crossing, a helping hand, somebody’s smile.”
Marina entered a program of psychological help and therapy provided by the nongovernmental women’s union. She works from time to time cleaning apartments for the elderly.
“Now I’m cleaning grannies’ apartments," she said. "I drink coffee with them and call them my well of wisdom. With their help, you can go back and remember some of the good roots of life. My life currently consists of women from the center and my son.”
Still, Martina cannot forget what she endured.
“Even today, when I see gestures by some people, certain motions that remind me of that life, I immediately break down and want to jump at them," she said. "With the help of women from the center, I learned to control myself pretty well.”
She claims the general public isn’t even aware of the extent of trafficking in women in Croatia and the extent to which that business is blossoming, couched in legitimate activities.
“This business has been developed in Croatia precisely and efficiently," Martina said. "A woman with a university degree can end up in a miniskirt on the street just like a woman from the country. It doesn’t matter whether it is a bar, a shop, an office, whatever. They keep their tentacled octopuses on every corner."
(translated by Naida Skrbic)
By Nidzara Ahmetasevic, Sarajevo
March 18, 2003 – (IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT) The Moldovan woman is only 20, but she looks far older. "My boss paid a thousand euro for me," she told IWPR in excellent Bosnian. "It was just like buying a t-shirt - you turn it around, look it over and if you like it, you buy. That's how it was with me."
Elena, not her real name, she shows no emotion as she speaks - as if she has already accepted her fate.
Girls were sold for prices ranging from around 500 to 1,500 euro – the amount treated by their new pimps as a debt they then had to repay through forced, or willing, prostitution.
The hours were long. "I had to work every night, " she said. "The clients paid my boss 30 euro for an hour with me, or 128 euro for a whole night. On Fridays or Saturdays I had as many as 15 customers."
Elena is one of thousands who have experienced a similar fate. A little over a year ago, she went to the West in hope of earning money through prostitution but instead she was "sold" and then smuggled into Bosnia-Herzegovina, where she was forced to work in one of the country's numerous nightclubs.
She escaped, but then spent 20 days in detention for possession of false documents. Upon her release, she was handed over to the International Organisation for Migration, IOM. While waiting to return home to Moldova, Elena lives in one of the body's six safe houses scattered across the country.
Under IOM rules, she says, she cannot reveal her own name, or the names of the people she worked for. Nor can she leave her safe house unaccompanied.
According to non-governmental organisations, NGOs, and United Nations experts, human trafficking appeared in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995, at the end of the war. Women and girls, mostly from Eastern Europe, but from Bosnia as well, were kidnapped or lured from home by the promise of well-paid work.
But then they were treated as little more than sex slaves until their supposed debts were paid off. Those who disobeyed the brothel owners were beaten or even tortured.
With its porous frontier and poorly-regulated administration, police and judiciary, Bosnia-Herzegovina became a safe haven for human traffickers and pimps, whose customers included local police, foreign peacekeeping troops and members of international organisations.
Tighter surveillance, increasingly frequent raids on bars and nightclubs, strengthened border controls, and a vigorous campaign against trafficking have combined to reduce the number of brothels in the past six months. Even so, few traffickers have been convicted.
"Local corruption and the complicity of international officials in Bosnia have allowed a trafficking network to flourish," the organisation Human Rights Watch, HRW, claimed in a recent report on the problem.
Elena's story confirms the report's conclusion. She arrived in Bosnia on April 4, 2002, to escape a life of poverty in her home country. "A girlfriend had been to Bosnia and when she returned to Moldova she told me she had worked as a waitress and that you could earn good money there," she told IWPR.
She and her two younger sisters had suffered abject misery in their homeland, as their mother was unemployed and their father alcoholic.
With only primary education qualifications, Elena had struggled to find a job to support at least her sisters. Finally, she was introduced to some people who promised to get her into Bosnia.
With fake Romanian papers, an ID card and a passport, Elena traveled first to Romania, where she was held in a house with three other girls. A few days later she was transported by boat to Belgrade, where she was bought by a local criminal called Dragan.
"I was with several other girls in a house in Belgrade. Various people came to inspect us. On some days, six or seven people came," she recalled.
"We presented ourselves in front of them with very few clothes on. They would sit there and the five of us would stand in front of them. When you went out there, you had to show what your breasts, waist and hips looked like.
"You had to convince them you would attract customers for them. They didn't take you if you had short hair. They watched out for scars, bad teeth or evidence of slashed wrists, because some girls do that. The new boss and the seller would then agree on a price."
Elena says she accepted her fate from the start. "All that time I thought this had to happen," she said. "I had left home for the first time and had tried to reach a place I didn't know. I badly needed money."
Elena was then dispatched to Bosnia, smuggled across the river by boat. The brothel-owner who had bought her from Dragan took her documents and gave her a Bosnian ID card.
"I then shared a house with 15 girls from different countries, including Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova. One was from Hungary," she said. " Some were younger and some older than me, and some had no documents at all. The house had four rooms, and the bar where we worked was a little further away. The boss kept his eye on us all the time."
Elena says all sorts of customers patronised her bar, including locals, soldiers from the NATO-led Stabilisation Force, SFOR, and even local policemen.
"The police would come to the bar, pay and take us to a room. The foreigners were just the same. Our boss always found out if any of the girls had asked them for anything. It was a vicious circle, because how could I ask people for help when they had paid my boss to have sex with me?"
After almost a year Elena escaped, and she was eventually taken to an IOM shelter. "The bar where we worked has closed," she said. "I don't know what happened to the boss and the girls. I want to go home now."
But going home is not going to be easy. After they heard of her fate, her family would not take her back. "When I called my mother, I could not lie and I admitted I was a prostitute. She told me I couldn't go back home." When she talks of her mother, Elena's stony facade finally begins to crack.
Elena now plans to stay at a friend's place when she returns home but is still worried about her future. "I'm scared of what will happen to me when I get back," she said.
"First I have to obtain regular papers so I don't have problems with the police. I want a husband and children. But I can never tell my children what happened to me, as I don't want them to know what their mother was like."
She holds herself partly to blame for her experience. "I did try to leave and do things differently and that's why it all happened," she said. "People in Moldova are very poor, and it's difficult to find a job and make ends meet there.
"I wanted to tell IWPR this because I feel better talking about it. Some girls will never discuss it, but I think you only end up crying more if you try to bottle it up and not tell anyone."
Nidzara Ahmetasevic is a freelance journalist from Bosnia.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF INTERNAL TRAFFICKING (every bit as evil but receiving of less attention) - Patricia Church- Blog Editor.
Rosario was the ninth child of twelve in a poor family in Manila. Her mother died when she was nine years old. For awhile, her older brothers and sisters cared for the younger children, but after a few years they were unable to keep their small house, and the children were split up and left to fend for themselves. That is how Rosario ended up on the streets in Manila, scavenging for food. It was there that she met up with Peter, a twelve-year-old who had been on the streets for severalyears. In addition to begging, he also worked the streets for a local brothel. After a few days of scavenging together, Peter brought Rosario to the brothel and told her that she could trade doing odd chores for food and shelter.Also in Manila for a few weeks at that time was Heinrich Rimer (not his real name), an Austrian medical doctor who visited manila frequently for rest and relaxation. Dr. Rimer was well known in Manila for his predilection for young girls, and, this visit, like others, he contacted Peter at the brothel and asked him to bring a young female to his hotel.Peter brought Rosario. Dr. Rimer gave Peter $12.00 and asked him to stay. He gave Rosario a drink with a powerful muscle relaxant in it and then proceeded to rape her with Peter watching. Rosario said later that the doctor hurt her terribly. However even then, he wasn't finished. He took out a vibrator from his suitcase and tried to insert it into Rosario. But the vibrator broke into several pieces inside Rosario. Dr. Rimer then removed the vibrator and gave Peter another $10.00 and told him to take Rosario away.Out on the street Rosario complained that she was hurting. Peter took her to a local doctor who gave her some pain pills. They told no one what had happened to Rosario. The pills helped a bit and Rosario felt better…for a few days. Then she began to complain of a fever and chills, and general malaise. When they went back to the doctor, he gave her an antibiotic. She felt better again for awhile, but about four weeks later, she developed several pains in her abdomen and the fever came back. She wandered the streets like this for several more weeks before she collapsed. She was taken to the local hospital, where, 3 days before she died, she told a nun what had happened to her.The nun ordered an autopsy and several pieces of the vibrator were found in Rosario's cervical area. The nun reported Rosario's death to the police who went looking for Peter. When they found him, he told them the story of Dr. Rimer, who visited frequently and always asked for young girls. For the first time, the government was galvanized. Law enforcement agents contacted Austria and Dr. Rimer was identified. He was extradited to the Philippines and tried, but let off on a technicality. He went back to Austria and returned to his medical practice.Since then Austria, Germany, and a few other Western European countries have passed laws prohibiting child sex tourism, and making it a crime to sexually abuse a child in a foreign country.- Rosario, trafficked in the Philippines, originally from the Philippines
Special Thanks to: Protection ProjectWebsite: http://www.protectionproject.org
"When did it all begin?" I asked Sasha.
We were sitting around a table covered with brightly colored teacups and trays of cookies. The small apartment, belonging to our friend Lauran, felt like the haven that it had become: peaceful, gentle, safe. I knew something about Sasha's story from Lauran - that she had been trafficked to Germany and Holland, that she had a young daughter, that she was rescued by a Dutch cab driver who married her, and that she was working hard to get her life back together. I knew that she had been befriended by a Dutch woman in Amsterdam who saw her weeping day after day as mothers waited for their children outside of school, and had introduced her to an ever-expanding circle of compassionate strangers who showed her love, friendship and steadfast commitment during this long and arduous process of emerging from prostitution. When Sasha found out that I would be visiting Lauran, and that I worked for an anti-trafficking organization, she was eager to tell me her story in the hope that it would help someone else.
Her silence lasted a long time. I wondered what event she would choose as the beginning of her story.
"With my mother," Sasha finally replied, and there was no hesitation in her voice. She began talking in a calm, conversational tone, and told me the story of a childhood characterized by abandonment, cruelty and loneliness. Her real father had left the family when she was a child. Sasha hardly remembered him. Her mother, who remarried shortly after, worked as a cleaning lady in dorm buildings for male laborers. She drank extensively, and when she drank, she beat her daughter. Sasha was expected to take care of the house, prepare the meals, clean up after her parents. Every morning her mother would make a list for her and if she did not complete her tasks, her mother would beat her. Sometimes, Sasha was forced to endure other punishments ranging from the irrational to the cruel. On occasion, she would be forced to write, "I will respect my mother," over and over again. At other times, she would be required to kneel on the stone floor, her arms stretched out in front of her, as her mother weighed them down with books. She had to stay that way for an hour and if she dropped her arms, she would be beaten. Her stepfather was a good-enough man, but passive. He was kind to Sasha, but never interfered when she was being punished. He too drank, vodka and rum. Because her mother was frequently too drunk to go to work, Sasha was the one who lied for her, fabricating stories of illness and injury.
Sasha's mother became pregnant. Her labor was long, the baby was born ill, and mother and son were required to stay in the hospital for two weeks, leaving Sasha alone with her stepfather. One night, while her stepfather was out celebrating the birth of his son, Sasha fell asleep in her parents' bed watching television. Her stepfather returned quite drunk and collapsed in bed next to her. He raped her. "He was a decent man," Sasha explains. "Sometimes I think that he was too drunk to know what he was doing. But I knew what happened." She told no one.
As her brother grew, Sasha was required to take care of him as well as the rest of the family - in addition to keeping up with her schoolwork. The mother started to entertain men at home in the afternoons. Their house was tiny - two rooms - and Sasha remembers putting her hands over her brother's ears so that he would not hear what was going on, but she did. One day, her stepfather returned from work early and caught his wife with another man. He took a knife and attacked. Both men were injured, and Sasha's stepfather was sent to jail for two years. Sasha was sad - he had been the only person who had been remotely kind to her, and now he was going to jail.
To escape some of the horror of home, Sasha began to visit her grandmother, who lived in an adjoining town. The walk there and back provided Sasha with time to escape the ugliness of her home life, even though she was frequently under orders from her mother to steal from her grandmother. One day, as she passed through a wooded area, she was attacked by a group of local boys. They took her off the road into the cellar of a house and spent the afternoon raping her. After they left, she went home and said nothing. Her mother found out and called the police. Two of the boys were sons of police officials and were never arrested. The story was quickly forgotten. In a drunken rage, her mother began screaming at her, accusing her of going after the boys, and telling Sasha she regretted the day her daughter has been born. "Take your clothes and get out of my house forever," she screamed. Sasha collected her few possessions and went out in to the night. She was 14, homeless, and had just been gang raped.
For the next four years, Sasha lived with her grandmother on weekends and attended a vocational high school to become a nurse. She moved to Prague, began her professional training as a psychiatric nurse in one of the city's hospitals, and found a boyfriend. He was a nice guy, good company, and Sasha liked spending time with him. She never worried about contraception because she had been told that, after being raped, it was not possible to become pregnant. However the inevitable happened. On May 11 she turned 18; on May 31 she was married, and on July 16, her son was born.
Her husband ran off with another woman and she found herself with a baby to support. For two months, she slept in a cheap hotel and finally in cars. The government child protective services took her son away from her, declaring her unfit as a mother. She finally got a job in a factory and applied for subsidized housing. "If you sleep with me, I will put you at the top of the list," her boss told her. Knowing that a house would enable her to get her child back, she complied. Soon after, she was given her own home. It did not matter that it was tiny, that there was only cold water, and no heat. She had learned the power of her own beauty to get something that she wanted. All that she wanted was a home for her child.
She started keeping company with another young man. Because she was told her first pregnancy was a fluke, she still used no contraception and inevitably became pregnant again. Again, she married, gave birth to a daughter, lived unhappily and divorced. This time, she lost her children, her home and her job. She started working as a waitress at a local restaurant, met a man named Peter and, because he promised her some stability and the likelihood of getting her children back, they married. She was able to get her daughter; her mother had demanded custody of her son. Again, the cycle of domestic violence and emotional abuse repeated itself. Peter lost his job, and Sasha was the only one providing an income for the family. She worked, shopped, and took care of the family. Peter drank, gambled, slept with other women and beat her when she came home. One night, she was so badly hurt she had to be hospitalized. Still, she continued, knowing that without her, her daughter would have nothing.
Sasha was barely eking out a living for herself and her family. For several months, she also worked in one of Prague's many nightclubs, getting out on the floor as a way to get others to dance. Men told her that she was a good dancer. In the summer of 1996, she was approached by some men who told her that they knew about her hard life. They offered her an opportunity to go to Germany, dance in a restaurant and make some money. She could strip - only if she wanted - to increase her income. Sasha wanted to take her daughter, fearing that her husband would mistreat her, but her new friends said that this would not be possible. Sasha made a deal with her husband, Peter: "I'll go to Germany and make us a lot of money if you will take care of our daughter when I am gone. I promise you, I will give you all the money." He agreed, and she left.
She started to worry when they crossed the German border. The man making all the arrangements, Stefan took her passport and those of the other girls riding in the car in order to clear customs, and kept the documents, "In case we need them for something else," he said by way of explanation. He never returned the documents.
When they arrived in Germany, she and the other girls were taken to an underground apartment and told what their new life would be like. "You will work in the club, you will talk and drink with the customers, encouraging them to buy lots of alcohol and, when they want, you will go to the back rooms and have sex with them."
"I was in shock," Sasha tells me later. I could not realize that this was happening to me." She wanted to leave, and demanded her passport back, but Stefan told her, "You cannot go now. You owe me money. I bought you." I asked her how much she owed, but Stefan never told her. Consequently, she never knew if she was every getting closer to paying off her debt or not. She felt enveloped in a shroud of deep despair. "I saw that I had traded one type of hell for another," she said flatly, describing how she reacted to the news of her enslavement. "I did what I had to do, because I was doing it for my daughter."
Later she was taken to the Netherlands, and located in a window in the red light district of Amsterdam. She was told that she would charge clients 50 guilders (US $20) for twenty minutes. At the end of every night, she would be expected to pay Stefan and his aide, Joseph, 550 guilders (US $200) - the result of 11 clients, plus installment on the exorbitant rent for the apartment they had found for her. Anything after the income from 13 clients was hers to keep. Together we calculated what her traffickers were able to make off of her on one year. Considering that Sasha worked six days a week, in one year she paid her traffickers the equivalent of $70,000 - tax-free. Sasha was appalled. "All that money, and I have nothing for myself,' she kept saying. When she said she wanted her daughter, Stefan said that she would have to pay 10,000 guilders (US $4,000) to get her. Sasha had no choice but to work more. I asked her, what was the most she had ever worked. She closed her eyes and thought. Telling me an amount of money, she asked, "How many clients would that make?" I did the math and looked at her, hardly able to believe what she was telling me. "You were sometimes with 36 clients in one day?" I asked her, and she said, "Yes. I had to. I wanted my daughter back." She described how she coped. She drank a lot. Every night. And after each client left, she showered to wash the feeling off of her body. She disassociated herself from what she was doing, much as she had done when she was in the Czech Republic and was repeatedly being beaten by her husbands. She became numb, feeling nothing. "I kept reminding myself, it is for my daughter. That is how I got by."
"Were you not free to go?" I asked her. "There was always a security guard out side the street," she said. He walked back and forth. Stefan said that she was there to protect Sasha, but Sasha did not have a cell phone or any way of getting in contact with him if a client were to become abusive. He was there for one reason: to make sure that Sasha and the other girls Stefan was managing stayed right where they were. Stefan also threatened her daughter. Her life consisted of caring for her daughter and going to work. All of her movements were watched. She was not going anywhere.
Amsterdam's red-light district needs no description. Customers blend in with curious pedestrians; others are brought there by cab drivers that drop off their fares and drive around the streets waiting to take the man back to his home or hotel. As good businessmen, these drivers became familiar with the women behind the windows, making mental notes of their different characteristics so as to provide their fares with what they wanted. Mihiel was one such cab driver. He noticed Sasha soon after she got there. She was tall and strong, with wavy blond hair and deep blue eyes. But something else caught Mihiel's attention. "It was more of a sense that she didn't belong there," he told me. He decided he wanted to get to know this woman so he walked into her room, put down his money and said, "I just want to talk to you." Sasha was stunned. This had never happened to her before. "Who are you?" he wanted to know. "Where do you come from?" Slowly, and in spite of herself, Sasha came to trust this big but gentle man who genuinely seemed to care about her. Mihiel was falling in love with her. Sasha tells me that she spent the first months of their relationship trying to push him away. "By that time, I believed that I could never trust another man again. Men had beaten me, raped me, abused my children and me, and sold me into slavery. Why should I trust another man?" But Mihiel was undaunted. One evening, as he was standing around a street corner talking with other cab drivers between fares, he noticed a few flower vendors on the corner. "How much for all of your roses?" he asked them, knowing full well that they were not cheap. He piled the bushels of roses into his car and drove to the red light district. "Every half hour I would stop at Sasha's window and take in a rose." Sasha still seems incredulous in the retelling of the story. "He never said anything, he just came in, put the rose on a table, and left. Later the next morning, I went home. When I opened the front door to my apartment building, I noticed that there were roses on the stairs leading up to my apartment. There were roses in front of my door. I entered, and the apartment was completely filled with roses - in the kitchen sink, inside the refrigerator, on the bed and in the closets. There were even roses in the toilet!" He had broken in during her absence and covered the place with flowers.
Eventually Mihiel's gentle persistence paid off and she began to think that she could have a relationship with this man. She had never hid her past from Mihiel, nor her slave status. And he was determined that he could do something about this. Mihiel, the son of a well-known Dutch television celebrity who had been disowned by his father when he was a young boy, was very familiar with the ways of the streets and with Amsterdam's shadow sector. One night he took a few of his own associates and met with Stefan. The deal, simply put, was Sasha's full release from any from of debt bondage and slavery as well as the return of her passport. In exchange, Mihiel assured Stefan that he would not be harmed. The one stipulation Stefan asked for was that his name not be revealed to the authorities.
To this day, Sasha divides her life into two parts - "Before and after I got my freedom."
The Long Road Back
Sasha and her daughter Denisa have lived with Mihiel for six years. Overstuffed photo albums document the development of family life - birthdays, Christmas, new clothes, and finally, Mihiel and Sasha's wedding after their respective divorces became final. For several years, Mihiel has supported Sasha and Denisa, as well as providing support to three daughters from an earlier marriage, on his taxi driver salary. Paying taxes as a single man with no dependents, he has also had to pay for medical bills, school, and other expenses out of his own pocket. Now that she is legally married to Mihiel, Sasha has applied for resident status but the Dutch government has issued an extensive list of requirements that must be met first. Because her status is that of an illegal alien, she must leave the Netherlands until her status is regularized, and her family is once more separated. In her efforts to normalize her status and provide long-term stability to her daughter, she feels as if she is being punished.
On one of her trips back to the Czech Republic, she sought refuge and help in a shelter run by a non-profit organization located in numerous Eastern European and former Soviet countries with a mandate to assist victims of trafficking. It was an experience she never wants to repeat. The "shelter" was located out of the center of the city. It was an empty apartment with minimal furniture, no television, and no phone. A paid social worker was on duty until three in the afternoon every day but after that, went home. At first, Sasha was in the home by herself, soon to be joined by three women from other former Eastern Block countries. They were all there in a strange city, with nothing to do, no telephone, and no one to speak to. "We can't get too involved with our clients, we would lose our objectivity," commented a worker from this
From her home in an impoverished village in rural Bolivia, the prospect of quick riches as an escort girl proved impossible to resist for 23-year-old Patricia Suarez.A neighbor working for a Hong Kong gang suggested the trip, promising the youngmother an escape from part-time work as a domestic servant that paid only US $50 (HK $387) a week.Desperate for money, the former university student left her two-month old baby with her mother and six brothers and sisters—unaware that she was heading for a nightmare trapped in a sleazy underworld.Ms. Suarez speaks no English or Chinese. When she landed at Kai Tak airport last May she was met by another Bolivian woman who whisked her to a flat run by her pimp, known as Jacky. From there she was sent out to clients who had contacted the escort agency through adverts in pornographic magazines. At one point she became pregnant and an abortion was arranged by the gang.She was arrested on November 22, charged with robbery and spent four months in Tai Lim prison. She was acquitted yesterday and is due to be deported within days. Ms. Suarez has no idea where to find the flat in which she was kept, so she cannot collect her clothes. She will fly home with $5,000 in her bag. It is a far cry from the fortune she dreamed of.- Patricia, trafficked in China, originally from BoliviaSpecial Thanks to: Protection ProjectWebsite: http://www.protectionproject.org
Original Source: Oliver Poole. “Young Mother’s Dream of Fast Fortune Ended in Nightmare.”
South China Morning Post (11 March 1997).
"I'll call myself Maria in this story. This is a real story about my life and I am not the only one who could be named that name. There are many Marias like I am and that is the reason to bring this story to daylight - to stop 'Maria's Story' happens again. I come from a little village in Albania where my parents and my sisters still live. They probably think I am dead, and I hope so. It is easier than the truth; I have done things they never can imagine. I shall never see them again. It was only four years ago when a young man from Skopje came into my father's shop. He was very polite and well dressed and he asked about life in our town. When I said there was little to do, my father asked if he was there to talk or to buy something. My father is very old fashioned and he was always protecting me from boys, which I did not like. I was almost 17 years old and did not need my father's protection. The smile the young man gave me said he understood. But he talked to my father politely, paid for some items and I saw him going away in a Mercedes Benz car. I was very angry with my father and many time think of the young man in his expensive car. Perhaps two weeks after, the young man arrived again. This time my father was away to cafe and we talked (Later, I wonder if he watched the shop to see my father going out...). His name was Damir and he spoke of the famous cities he often visited. Rome, Paris, Madrid and many other ones, I could only dream about. I said how much I wanted to see them and Damir said how he works for a modeling agency that looks for pretty girls like I was (My face became red but I enjoyed him to say such things...). To live and work in Paris!!! If I wanted to do it, he would arrange for colleague to speak with my parents. I was very excited and said yes. Some days passed and woman entered the shop. She was Damir's colleague. Her jewelers and expensive clothes made me embarrassed of my own. She spoke to my parents and showed them a contract. I will earn certain amount of money, so much to me for living and the rest to my parents. When my father asked about safety, Vanja said how young models live together and always with chaperone. I beg them to allow me and finally my father signed. I remember he was very sad about me going away. Vanja took me to a photo shop for passport photos and said Damir hope to see me soon. I was in Heaven! The next week Vanja returned. In her car were two other girls, one gypsy girl, younger than me and another Albanian, little older. I kissed my parents goodbye. It was last time I saw them. We drove some hours to Durres on the coast of Adriatic sea. Damir was waiting for us... The other girls knew him also and I was already jealous, but too excited to be angry. He had our new passports but told us he must keep them. It was first time I saw the sea and first time in a ship. It seemed very big and beautiful. We followed Damir, who had our tickets and travel documents. He spoke with official and gave him something before we went into the ship and down many stairs. I thought we were near the engine - the smell of oil was very strong, also rotten food and the smell of clothes not washed in long time. He said for our safety he must lock the door but will return in the morning. Two of us had to share a bed, but only for one night and next day we shall come to Italy! The sound of the engine was very loud and soon the ship was moving very fast. We wished to talk about the handsome men we are going to meet and how the girls at home will be jealous, but the bad smells and moving ship make me and gypsy girl very sick. The next morning we arrived in Bari. Damir took us to a house where the streets are dirty and we see beggars and even rats during the day. We were nervous because we expecting something very different than that. When we enter the house it smelled as bad as the ship. There were many girl's magazines, wine bottles and cigarettes on the floor. Some men were sitting inside, they laughed and looked at us in bad way and speak to Damir in Italian, which we did not understand. I asked him who they are, but the polite young man from my father's shop grab my arm and said something very bad in Albanian. He hit me on the face. I fell on the ground and he pulled me by hair into a room and hit me more than once until my face start bleeding. I did not understand what has happened. I heard other girls screaming. And then he raped me. Than the other men came in and did the same. After that event, each day the same men came again, and then the others, who paid money to be with us. If we said no, Damir would hit and kick us and gave us no food. He said THIS was modeling we must do for anyone they say. He paid for our passports and documents. They belong to him and to be without them in foreign country means going to prison if police find us. If we try escape, he and his friends will kill us and no one will ever know. If we succeed and go to police, bad things will happen to our families and everyone will hear we are prostitutes. He laughed and and said how we were stupid girls from farms. He asked what our parents and friends would say if they knew with how many men we have been already!? It was very cruel to make us feel ashamed for what he make us to do. One night Damir took me and the gypsy girl to the truck and said another man own us now and if we thought he was a bad man, this man is worse, so we better do always what he says. He gave our passports to this man and we travel all night and next day until Marseille in France, where we stayed in the house with the other girls. There I learnt if I am quiet and do what he says I won't be punished and some given drugs to make them addicts. If they are bad, they do not have the drugs they wanted. I was in Marseille almost one year and sold to a man and a woman who took me to Amsterdam. I slept in a small room with no heat and little food, sometimes only what is left over from their meals. Sometimes I did not eat for one or two days. They are drug addicts and would forget about me - except to bring men. When there were no customers, the man would hit me and burn me with cigarettes and force me to do things sometimes with the woman there also. He said this to make me remember he is the master. I made no trouble and after some time the woman take me to carry her shopping. I liked these shopping trips with her and did everything se wanted me to do - it was wanderful to be away from my small, cold room. After some time she began to give me some small money for treats. One day I saw a poster about charity for women. I begin to pray that I will find them and they will help me. But I was frightened because I have no papers. my owners always said to me how without the passport I will go to prison and then sent to Albania if the police find me. Even after more than two years I cry with shame of my life and shame of my parents if they ever know about me. One day the woman was looking at clothes. She gave me small money to buy a treat. But I found a telephone and with the money called the number of the charity. It was difficult to understand me but Bulgarian came to the telephone and asked where I am. SHE SAID SHE WAS COMING FOR ME !!!!! Now I work for this charity more than one year and help girls like me. I talk to them every day, and I tell them they must make a new life. They weep very much. I also, but wait until night so they do not see. We all want to go home but we cannot. The shame for our parents and us is too large. I dreamed to be a model. Now I dream about a nice man but what man will marry me? Even if he accepts what happen to me I can never have children because of it. It is difficult to smile. My new friends in the charity all say the girls like us must be warned. My Bulgarian friend says parhaps the way is Internet. There is little money needed for making website and my English is not good but she helps me. We hope many people will find it."
- Maria, trafficked in France & Italy, originally from AlbaniaSpecial Thanks to: Ex Oriente LuxWebsite: http://ex-oriente-lux.org/acc_albania_01.html
Original Source: Human Peril
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Teen details human trafficking, prostitution
BY RON SYLVESTER
The Wichita Eagle
She had a baby at 14, fathered by a man in his 30s.
At 15, she ran away, and met another man who she said took her from Wichita to Dallas and put her on the streets as a prostitute.
Now 16, the girl took the witness stand Tuesday and pointed to Marlin Williams as the man she knew by the nickname "Pressure." She said she gave him the money she earned for having sex with strangers.
Williams, 38, so vehemently denied the charge against him that he had to be escorted out of court during jury selection for shouting at Sedgwick County District Judge Clark Owens.
The five women and seven men selected for the jury are hearing the first case of human trafficking filed in Sedgwick County under a provision of Jessica's Law, which last year increased punishment for most sex offenses against children and teens. It also added the new crime of human trafficking, which carries a penalty of 12 to 44 years in prison for people who "recruit, harbor or transport" minors to engage in sex.
Lawyer Brad Sylvester, who represents Williams, argued to the judge that under this law a father could be charged with a crime for driving his daughter to a school dance, if he knew she might have sex with her boyfriend afterward.
Sylvester told the jury all Williams did was drive.
The girl said he did more.
She is not being named because The Eagle has a policy of not naming victims of alleged sex crimes.
Williams gave her eight condoms, a price list for sexual favors and told her "don't come back with less than $400," the girl told prosecutor Christine Ladner.
She said she'd run away from her family after the 33-year-old father of her child went to jail for having sex with her as a minor.
She also ran away from the Wichita Children's Home and ended up living with a woman who couldn't pay her bills, the teen testified.
"That's what it's like being on the run," she said. "You never know where you're going to end up next."
The girl said she met Williams through the woman she lived with. She told him she was 17, but she was really 15.
Williams drove her and another girl to Dallas, the girl testified, not even letting her pick up her clothes on the way out of town.
"He told me he would buy me new things," she said.
The girl said they drove to Dallas that same night and within two hours she was working the streets.
"He bought me a pair of shoes," she said.
Sylvester, Williams' lawyer, told the jury in his opening statements that the girl met other prostitutes once she reached Dallas. Sylvester said that when police found her and questioned her, she pointed to Williams because she was afraid of the people who really were behind her prostitution.
As the girl's testimony continues today, Sylvester said, he plans to cross-examine her about her MySpace page -- a Web site on which he claims she still advertises herself as a prostitute.
Reach Ron Sylvester at 316-268-6514 or email@example.com.
Meeting the 'chocolate slaves'
By Humphrey Hawksley BBC, Mali
The morning Malian sun was so severe that it cast on the white-washed wall stark shadows of the four children sitting upright and bewildered on a bench.
A fan cooled sweat from their faces. Its breeze blew a sheet of paper off the table. One of the children helpfully ran after it and handed it over to the woman looking after them.
"We are like your parents," she told them gently. "Whatever is here belongs to you."
One of the boys buried his face into his cupped hands, the relief was so great. The oldest was 13. The youngest, 10.
"What happened to you?" I asked.
"I was playing football," said Karim Sadibe. "This man said I should come with him to the Ivory Coast. He would sign me up for the national team and I would get lots of money and that I shouldn't tell my parents."
Karim went, but luckily was intercepted by police. The man who was to have sold him into slavery - probably for about £50 - melted away.
Karim was sent back to Mali, to a centre run by Save the Children Fund, Canada. All of that had taken place within the past week.
Next door was 20-year-old Moussa Doumbia. He slipped off a freshly pressed pink shirt to reveal welted scars where he had been made to carry sacks of cocoa until he managed to escape two years ago.
At night he slept on the floor in a locked room. He was given food once a day. If he complained, he was beaten. The boys who tried to escape had their feet cut with razors.
"I don't know how one human being can treat another in the way they treated me," he whispered.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
A personal story of Thai woman who was trafficked to Japan as a sex worker (THAIWOMEN case)
"Since arriving to work in Japan, I cried a lot although normally I did not cry easily" --- A personal story of Thai woman who was trafficked to Japan as a sex worker
After leaving a primary school, I helped my parents do some domestic chores and worked in the paddy field. My friend told me that she was going to work in Japan and persuaded me to go with her. I decided to go with her. But I told my mother I went to work in Bangkok.
When we arrived in Japan, the weather was so cold. An agent chose me and my friend and sent us to Tokyo. Other women were sent to rural areas. The agent told us that each of us owed him 500,000 Thai Baht (about US$ 20,000). We were taken to a bar where inside we could see thirty Thai women singing and talking to customers. A man who was in charge of the bar told me to sit with one of the customers who had already paid him 30,000 Yen (about US$ 300). After that, he ordered me to go out with that customer.
Many times I saw Yakuza or the Japanese gangsters rush into the bar. One day, three of Yakuza came in and took three Thai women out. The women returned to the bar with tears. One woman had had her throat tickled with a knife and was forced to have oral sex. Another woman was forced to get into the bathtub, and then the man urinated on her face. Sometimes, while I was staying with a customer in a room, I heard my colleague screaming for help in Thai from a room near by. But my customer forbade me to do anything about it or I myself would receive the same awful treatment.
There were some women who ran away. The boss paid Yakuza to trace them and return them for punishment. They locked the woman up in a small room in which she had to sleep with any customers they commanded. If she disobeyed, she would have only one choice-death. Since arriving to work in Japan, I cried a lot although normally I did not cry easily.
One day when we were walking, two policemen came to hold our arms and asked us to show them our passports. We told them that we left them in our room but in fact, our visas had expired a long time ago. We were taken to a Police Station. There were about 200 women inside and we were investigated. Most of the Thai women had been there for two or three months. They said that they couldn't afford any air tickets so they were waiting for help from the Thai Embassy. One morning, the immigration policeman called our names telling us that we could go back home. I was so delighted but when I saw many of my fellow countrywomen who were not called crying, I felt sympathy for them but couldn't provide any help.
I was deported. After working in these conditions I arrived in Thailand empty handed. All my work, my traumatic experience, was for nothing. At present I stay with my parents and my little nephews in my village. I make my living from a small grocery and do some agriculture. All of this work requires labour, endurance and some capital. But everyone of us who was born in this world has to struggle and work hard in order to live in this world. I also give my time working on the committee for the women's group in my village. Though it is just a small thing, I hope it can be useful for the community.
----Summary of a Thai woman's personal story "Once in My Life," Our Lives Our Stories (Bangkok, Thailand: Foundation of Women, 1995, pp12-42)
Rachel is a young Nigerian woman who managed to escape from traffickers and agreed to meet with the Advocacy Project. I have borrowed her story from the Advocacy Project's website. Rachel was living in Benin City with her sister when she was approached by a man who asked if she would like to go abroad and earn money. After a long and roundabout route she arrived in Rome, where she met her pimp, named "Madam Agnes." She was shocked to learn that she was expected to earn $50,000 dollars from prostitution, or be denounced to the police as an illegal immigrant. At the going rate that would have meant sex with several partners a day for three years.
Rachel tried to escape, but to no avail. After three weeks on the streets, a client drove her to the patch of empty ground. After having sex with Rachel in his car, he told her to hand over all of her earnings from the day. She kept her earnings in a sock and gave him an empty purse. He started to curse and hit her, whereupon she managed to open the door and start running. He started the car and drove it right at her, knocking her down. Luckily he then drove off, because as she knows only too well, she could have been killed. Covered in blood and crying, Rachel then walked back to the corner where she worked. In retrospect, it seems amazing that she returned. It shows how totally cowed she had been by her experience and by the fearsome Madam Agnes.
Rachel was rescued by a group of modern Samaritans from the Catholic group Caritas, who patrol the streets of Rome every Wednesday in an attempt to check up on the prostitutes. They quickly realized that Rachel was sick and asked her to go to a hospital with them. At first Rachel refused: "I thought I would not be able to afford treatment." They insisted gently and told her that the treatment would be free. Even ensconced in a hospital bed, Rachel was reluctant to sleep, afraid of how Madam would react. The staff carried out medical tests, which presumably included a test for sexually transmitted diseases and even HIV-AIDS.
Rachel's five days in the hospital finally broke the grip of Madam Agnes. The Caritas group asked if Rachel wanted to return to Nigeria and offered to help. She was taken to a convent in Rome, where she stayed for several days with two other girls. She then went to the Nigerian embassy in Rome and to the office of the International Organization of Migration, to collect the necessary documents and ticket. In one final act of pure malice, Madam Agnes had phoned Rachel's family after she had escaped and told them that she had been killed. When Rachel returned home, alive and well, they were overjoyed. They were also bitterly angry-so angry, in fact, that they went in person to confront the brother of Agnes. He was living in Benin City and had arranged for the departure of their child two months earlier.
Rachel's story rings true for most Nigerians, and it is only one of thousands of stories just like it that radiate from all over the world.