Skip to comments.Women sold as 'fresh meat'
Posted on 11/26/2005 7:17:30 PM PST by Lorianne
BUCHAREST -- In a back street in central Bucharest at 3 a.m., a surly Romanian orders a young woman to open her coat and twirl around. "You see, she is beautiful," he says in a cold monotone. "Health good, skin good -- no marks. We get doctor's papers. You want see body?"
"No, it's okay," I reply. "I can see she is in good condition."
She is slim, dark-haired and attractive but is cowed and passive in front of her dead-eyed controllers -- two men in their twenties wearing designer jackets. The next day in a smoky cafe, we agree on a price. "Okay, you have for 2,000 euros," says the negotiator opposite me -- about $2,800 Cdn. "We get passport and you can take."
This is no ordinary business deal. I have just agreed to buy Ileana Petrescu, a 19-year-old Romanian woman. Ileana was forced into prostitution two years ago. I am to be her third "owner" and the first to take her out of her home country.
I had made contact with the young woman's controllers through an intermediary two days before we struck the deal. I had entered the murky underworld of human traffickers by posing as a British "businessman" looking to purchase Eastern European girls to "work" in a club in London.
PURCHASE DISTURBINGLY EASY
Ileana had no say in the sale. When the pimps were there she spoke only once, to assure me, with sad, pleading eyes: "You will not need to beat me."
Reaching a deal to buy Ileana and take her to England was disturbingly easy and will come as a shock for Tony Blair and his ministers, who are losing the battle against the gangs trafficking women from countries such as Romania, Ukraine, Lithuania and Albania.
The victims -- most of whom are duped into believing that they are going to "normal" jobs as dancers, au pairs and housekeepers -- are coerced into prostitution all over Western Europe. Britain is a prime destination, as demand is constant, prices high and immigration controls are perceived to be lax.
According to the Home Office, up to 6,000 girls a year are brought into Britain and sold into the vice industry, many by illegal immigrants and failed asylum-seekers from Eastern Europe.
Last year, police arrested 1,456 people for human trafficking offences and seized #4.5 million. It is a relentless tide and officers admit that they are struggling against it. "We stop one gang and another one moves in straight away," said one detective at Scotland Yard.
The criminals are becoming more brazen. Last month, two men and a woman were convicted in Sheffield of auctioning two Lithuanian girls, aged 18 and 19, at a Gatwick Airport coffee shop for #3,000 each. The girls, who believed that they were being taken on holiday to stay with a friend's father, were made to work as prostitutes in London and Sheffield under threat of torture and death, until they escaped. One was raped repeatedly by her Serbian-born pimp, Tasim Axhami, 19, who was jailed for 21 years. His accomplice, Emiljan Beqirat, was sentenced to 16 years and Beqirat's girlfriend, Vilma Kizlaite, was given 11 years.
ILEANA THE VICTIM OF A TRAP
Last week, two failed asylum-seekers from Moldova were jailed for bringing almost 600 women into Britain illegally. Gavril Dulghieru, 36, who was sentenced to nine years, and his wife Tamara, jailed for five, used cloned credit cards, and stolen and bogus passports in one of Britain's biggest trafficking operations.
The girls were forced to work as prostitutes to pay the couple #300 a day rent and repay the alleged #20,000 cost of getting them to Britain.
Back in Bucharest, the translator and I take Ileana away for what her pimps assume is a "test-drive" to check her suitability for "entertaining" clients at the mythical bar in London. In fact, we head to a cafe and listen to her shocking but not unusual story. At 16, Ileana, an ill-educated girl from a poor family, was gang-raped at the back of a disco in her home town near Bucharest. It was not just a random act by violent thugs, but a deliberate tactic, the first stage of her "breaking in." Soon afterwards, she was befriended by a young man who, unbeknown to her, was an accomplice of -- possibly even one of -- the rapists. He became her boyfriend and "behaved like a gentleman," she says.
As a traumatized, vulnerable teenager she was thrilled to meet someone so kind. But, in reality, she was a victim of the "lover-boy" pimp trap, a ploy used by traffickers to ensnare young women suspicious of ads offering jobs as "dancers" abroad.
PIMP BUYS HER FOR 200 EUROS
After six weeks, Ileana's "boyfriend" took her to a Black Sea resort town for the weekend. As soon as they arrived, she was sold to a pimp for 200 euros, locked in a darkened room and forced to service clients day and night.
That ordeal lasted for a year before she was returned to Bucharest and sold to her present owners. For the past two years, she has been forced to have sex with an average of four customers a night. Yet her parents, who she still visits at Christmas, believe her story that she is working in a shop.
She shows no emotion about going to London and accepts that she will work as a prostitute: she knows or expects nothing else. But as she puffs on a cigarette and drinks Coke from a bottle there is a sign that her spirit is not completely crushed. "I don't want this to happen to my younger sister. If she does this I will cut off her hair," she blurts out.
During the negotiations for Ileana, the senior pimp gives her a good reference. "She works hard and has many clients," he says. "She will give no trouble."
Ileana has a passport but I have to obtain the visa if she is to enter Britain legally -- "no problem because you are British," the pimp says. "You write letter saying she will work for you in London. Or we have other ways."
He eyes me carefully and asks about my bar, where it is and whether I have any Romanian connections. Eventually, satisfied with my answers, he comes up with the figure of 2,000 euros. Pleased with the prospect of a fast buck -- and confident that he will quickly replace Ileana with what he calls "fresh meat" -- he assures me casually that I will get my money back by taking all of Ileana's earnings until she has paid off the 2,000 euros. "After that, you take the money for rent," he says.
FRAIL WOMAN LOOKED TERRIFIED
Ileana was one of three women offered to me for sale in Bucharest last week. The first trafficker changed his mind when his boss ruled that Ioana, another slender brunette -- who was also priced at 2,000 euros and seemed excited at the prospect of going to London -- was making him so much money that he did not want to lose her. The second girl, Elena, was offered to me by a baseball cap-wearing pimp in his forties called Gianni. We arranged to meet Elena, Gianni and Elena's "owners" in the city's Uniril Square the following night. Gianni arrived first and then a car with tinted windows and two heavies sitting in the front screeched to a halt before us. A nervous, pretty, sparrow-like blond climbed out of the back seat.
She looked terrified and, in an incongruously polite touch, proffered her hand to shake. Gianni explained that Elena was "quite new but very good." The two thugs asked me about my business and how I planned to take Elena back to England. She didn't have a passport but they could help with that, they said. I spent 20 uncomfortable minutes with them and arranged to meet again the next day when they would give me a price. But by then I had agreed to buy Ileana.
The day before striking the deal for Ileana, I drive to the 1,400-inmate high-security prison in Giurgiu, near the Bulgarian border, 65 kilometres south of Bucharest. Among its prisoners are 26 convicted people-traffickers. With sentences ranging from four to nine years, the traffickers all protest their innocence before going on to reveal the secrets of their sordid but lucrative business. They paint a depressing picture and say that the same could be said of many other ex-Soviet bloc countries.
VULNERABLE TEENS TARGETED
Most of the girls targeted by the recruiters are vulnerable teenagers, in the optimum age bracket of 15 to 19. They invariably come from poor, troubled families in the towns and villages of southern Romania, including Calarashi, Slobozia and Constanta. The initial recruiters are usually women, sometimes even the girls' own mothers. Some are taken to work in Bucharest and other cities, before being moved on, often to Western Europe, many via "girl markets" in Albania and Macedonia.
They are promised good jobs but when they arrive, their passports are seized and many are imprisoned in dingy rooms and they are forced to sell their bodies. Almost all their profits must be handed over to the pimps. Resistance is punished with gang-rape and beatings.
One inmate, Niculina Nicu, a tough-looking 29-year-old from Bucharest serving eight years for selling a woman for 200 euros, says girls are often sold several times in Romania before being trafficked abroad to satisfy the seemingly endless demand. Trafficking is carried out by people along the routes, he says, from village women who encourage girls to apply for "dancing jobs" abroad, to corrupt border guards.
Nicu insists that the girls would be worse off if they did not have pimps to "protect" them. "A lot of girls do it because they want a nice life," he says by way of justification.
Another trafficker, Caldararu Dumitru, 44, also serving eight years for trafficking, admits that many girls are given bogus contracts and forced into prostitution. "But many girls like it, because at least they have money in their pockets."
TRAFFICKERS HAVE KILLED WOMEN
At the Bucharest headquarters of the National Office for the Prevention of Human Trafficking, Silvio Erusencu, the Police Commissioner, is scathing of the traffickers' attempts to defend their actions. "It is exploitation," he says. "We have had girls telling us that traffickers have killed another girl in front of them to terrify them and break their spirit."
The Romanian authorities are doing what they can but they depend on charities to fund prevention measures such as official employment agencies for jobs abroad, poster campaigns to warn young women, and shelters for victims. Critics say the police do not do enough to catch traffickers and accuse officers of taking bribes from pimps.
One-hundred-and-thirty kilometres northwest of the capital, in the town of Pitesti, Iana Matei, who runs a refuge for women who have escaped forced prostitution, is angered by the suggestion that women enjoy being raped, beaten and forced to have sex with dozens of strangers. "These girls are slaves but they are dismissed as prostitutes and illegal immigrants. The British police deport them but the traffickers meet them at the airport and they are back in England within three weeks. Governments should co-operate so the girls can be helped back to their families or to shelters and the police can catch the traffickers."
Matei introduces me to Alina, who escaped from her captors earlier this year. Slowly, bravely, Alina, who left school at 14, tells me how she was pushed into prostitution by her own mother, a violent, hard-drinking divorcee from Slobozia, a small town 15 kilometres southeast of the capital. "She planned it with a neighbour who was a trafficker, someone I'd known all my life and thought I could trust," she said. They told her there was a housekeeper's job in Rome and her mother pressured her to go to make money for Alina's young son.
KEPT PRISONER IN FREIGHT CAR
Alina and two other girls were taken in a minibus on a two-day journey through Hungary and Austria to a hut on the outskirts of Rome where she was raped and beaten by her neighbour and two other men. She was given a "patch" at a bus-stop and ordered to charge men 50 euros for five minutes of sex in a car park guarded by the pimps. She resisted and was punched in the face, before being sold weeks later to three Romanians who hit and raped her. They kept her and five other girls in a disused, windowless freight train carriage with only a blanket to sleep on -- and forced her to do more 50-euro sex sessions.
Alina escaped one night and went to the police and gave evidence in court to help convict the traffickers. She was taken back to Romania in August and now lives at the shelter, trying to rebuild her life with her son, Robert, five. "I will never forget what I have been through," she said. "But I am lucky to be alive and I have to keep going for my son's sake."
As for Ileana, there is hope that she may, too, be freed from a life of sexual slavery. Following our investigation, details of her controllers have been passed on to the Romanian police who have launched an investigation. A police spokesman said: "We take reports of trafficking very seriously and will be looking into this case."
Here is the truth behind the 'free sex' movement, here is the truth behind the 'safe sex' movement, here is the face of mankind degraded. Let the libertine Libertarians prattle about 'owning' your own body, here is the reality.
Do they have interns?
Are the sex slaves used in places where prostitution is legal or illegal?
Both. Drugs, beatings and coercion are major factors in the degrading sex trade.
Thank George Soros.
No hyperbole - he really did cause all of this.
Chinese Gordon, where are you when we need you?
Perhaps you can clue us all in - what does insanity feel like, exactly?
Do they have interns?
No, that would sexual harassment in the workplace, don't you know!
THESE ARE NOT SERBS (AS SHOULD BE OBVIOUS FROM THE NAMES). THEY ARE ALBANIANS.
They are the drug runners and pimps of Europe.
Anyone wonder why the Serbs tried to protect themselves against these sub-humans?
Sex Trafficking Goes Primetime
By Chuck Colson
Oct 24, 2005
Slave traffickers around the world have rediscovered how profitable it is to buy and sell people. Women are lured into modern-day slavery, hoping for a better life. They could all be your sister, or your best friend, or . . . your daughter. . . . Modern slavery exists only because we choose to ignore it. Now, that probably sounds to you like a quote from Ambassador Miller, who is the director of the State Departments Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Personsbut he is not the one who said it. Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino did.
This isnt another example, however, of a celebrity cause of the day. The quotation comes from Sorvinos character in the Lifetime Channels miniseries called Human Trafficking. Sorvino plays a New York detective working to bust an international sex-trafficking ring.
Also starring Donald Sutherland as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, the show Human Trafficking reflects a harsh, cold reality of how women and young girls across the globe are being bought and sold as sexual slaves, according to Lifetimes website, some lured . . . by mail-order bride ads. The miniseries airs tonight and tomorrow at 9:00 P.M. Eastern time. Now, I havent seen the series, so I cannot speak for its quality or its suitability for the family. But at the least, Lifetime is generating a much-needed dialogue.
In the preview, Sorvinos character quotes the Thirteenth AmendmentNeither slavery nor involuntary servitude . . . shall exist within the United Stateswhile images of victims cross the screen: students lured into what they think is modeling only to be forced into prostitution; young prostitutes brought in for the entertainment of rich male partiers; a mother blackmailed into prostitution when her three-year-old is kidnapped. These vignettes are based on true stories that the screenwriters learned about from government officials.
The series Human Trafficking makes a point of showing the presence of sex slavery right here in the United Statesand it is not fiction. Just this month, the Justice Department indicted Jaron Brice for his illegal sex trafficking operation that involved the prostitution and sexual assault of females as young as 14 years old.
For too long, the evil of sexual slavery has continued out of sight, out of mindnot any more. President Bush has spoken out on this, and our Wilberforce Forum staff has worked with senators and congressmen in the passage of the sexual trafficking act now being used to crack down on this. And now, of all things, primetime television is shining a light into the dark corners of our communities. The Lifetime Channels website provides viewers a wealth of information, including highlights of International Justice Missions work in rescuing victims, and practical ideas for what citizens can do. And visit BreakPoint.org for links to this and more information.
An ounce of cocaineyou can only sell it once, says Sutherlands character. A woman or a child: You can sell them . . . every day over and over and over again. The markup is immeasurable. Human trafficking, ladies and gentleman, is the business of the future. Sutherlands character is right. But it doesnt have to be if we Christians work, as we are doing here at BreakPoint, to get our government to enforce the laws.
You beat me to it. It seems to me that sexual slavery would be the antithesis of owning ones own body.
What a prince...
"Yet her parents, who she still visits at Christmas, believe her story that she is working in a shop."
Why doesn't she tell them?
I don't doubt this goes on ... this is tragic.
So the jerk reporter/editor/paper could not pony up 2000 euro and buy and set free this women whose story they are using to make money on.
Reality is ugly, the ivory tower theoreticians opine that 'sex-workers' are free. They are clueless.