Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Modern Day Slave Trade

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Over one MILLION women and children are kidnapped, sold, or tricked into a life of beatings, rape and torture every year the world over.
One such victim is Roxxana, she avoids all eye contact. Her gaze alternates between boring into the ground and scouring the door as if she feels the need to escape.  Her right foot taps loudly on the worn wooden floor.

She is one of the 55 female trafficking victims helped each year at the crisis intervention center run by the International Organization for Migration and the Ministry of Labor in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau.

Her story is shocking.

 "A childhood friend told me she worked in a boutique in Dubai and could help me get a similar job,' she explains. 'She put me in touch with a guy who arranged my trip to Odessa, Ukraine and then onward from Kiev to Dubai. 

Once in Dubai I was met by a Russian speaking woman, Oxana, who took me to a flat with six other girls from Eastern Europe.
Oxana told me I’d been sold and took my passport away. I refused to believe her words and tried to leave.  I soon found that all the doors were locked and the two large dangerous men I met earlier were not there to protect us. 

When I demanded they open the door and let me leave the larger of the two struck me in my abdomen so hard my legs gave way.  I cried but my tears meant nothing to them. the only words I heard were from Oxana, who admonished the men not to damage my face.  Later that evening I refused to prostitute myself.  I was locked in a closet and left there for 3 days with no food or water.  By the morning of the third day I would have done anything for a drink of water.  

Tired, afraid, trapped in a foreign country whose language I did not speak, with no money, no phone, no passport, I was trapped. If I wanted to live I had to do what they wanted.   That night I did what they commanded and a part of me died forever."

Roxxana's  story is just one of an estimated one MILLION women and children tricked, sold, kidnapped, stolen, and in some cases given into human sex slavery. A nightmare life where human beings are trafficked into a hellish  life of daily beatings, hourly rapes and sadistic torture, which often ends in ugly deaths in unmarked graves.

In Moldova  human trafficking is a massive problem where yearly an estimated 25,000 Moldavians are kidnapped or tricked into phony employment and sent to foreign countries. Most often these women and children are sent to the Middle East, Turkey, Russia, Cyprus, the UAE, and elsewhere where slavery is quasi-legal.  Victims, are often as young as 9-years-old, with the International Organisation for Migration estimating that 10 per cent of the Moldovans taken are children.

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There are many trafficking gangs operating in Eastern Europe.  Disturbingly, many women and children are sold into prostitution by family members or people they knew. Sometimes, the family needed money, as there were too many mouths to feed. So, they simply sold off one of the extra daughters as if there were nothing more then livestock.  Truly, sickening is the fact that often many of the spotters and recruiters for the Eastern European trafficking gangs were women.

Often, the girls don't consider themselves as victims; due too previously being raped, beaten, and mentally abused by family members. Their attitude is simply that they considered the violence and sexual degradation to be normal.  A young girl with very hard eyes named Irina, a girl brutalized,  pregnant by her sadistic alcoholic, father was sold for a weeks age to be trafficked to Turkey.

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Irina spoke about her difficult life in very somber tones... 

"Poverty crushed my family and the lives of so many in my town. With no way out, no jobs, no money, no schooling, no hope.  What else is there but a hard life filled with pain and suffering.  My mother died of breast cancer and father went to prison for raping me, but only after many years of endless nights filled with my tears.  When he was finally arrested I was left alone, penniless, with no job, no education, pregnant with a child I did not want nor could I afford.

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My grandmother, my father's mother, offered to help with the abortion and arranged for me to go to Turkey. The conditions are much better there and they’ll look after you," she lied to me.  At the airport in Istanbul I was met by two angry men who drove me to a desolate dirty property. There I met three other girls, Moldovan and Ukrainian.  They quickly disabused me of any notions of medical assistance or help of any kind. They informed me that I was to service 20 men a day as a prostitute with none of the money going to me.

Never imagining that my life could become any worse then it already I broke down and cried.  Sobbing I begged them to have pity on me, after all I was pregnant.  One of the girls went into the other room and told the two men I was pregnant.  The dark complected man came into the room asked me if indeed I was pregnant I nodded yes and he laughed.  Then, he and the other man took turns raping me all that night and into the next day.  Due to the rapes and beatings my pregnancy terminated in the first trimester leaving me barren, unable to have children. This is my life..."

The recruiters exploit the fact that these people are less knowledgeable about the process and risks of moving abroad for work, and as in Irina's case, tell them they'll be well treated when, in fact, the reality is quite different.

Eventually, many escape their captors, or simply become to old, to worn out to continue to be of any financial value.  The devastating, soul destroying impact of being forced into years of sexual slavery will most certainly leave severe emotional scars as Teodora makes plain.
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Teodora speaks haltingly...

"Locked up in dirty squalor, under constant security, I knew there no way out except death or disfigurement.' Something every girl was cognizant of and terrified of as well.   I, and the other girls were kept weak from forced starvation and constant abuse. The only escape was we were allowed to drink and they would give us drugs to make us more compliant; with the added factor addiction is a great motivator.  After, drinking enough to deaden my mind  I saw clients, often 20-30 a day. Sometimes, with as little as 5 minuets between clients it was not long before my body gave out, my youthful looks faded, and I simply lost the will to live.  At that point they have nothing left to threaten you with.  The constant threat of death means little when that is all you want."

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 Maria had a similar experience, a tale of woe told over and over again by exploited women the world over. Maria recounts...
"My captors took all the money on the pretext I owed them for flights and living accommodation.  Even if I wanted the money how could I overcome these men. They are stone cold killers who would hesitate to brutalize me, then throw my body in some alleyway.   The security guy who drove me everywhere raped me every time I refused his advances, which was almost daily. My bruises and cuts, too many to count, were habitually covered with cheap make-up. After a few weeks I managed to use the phone of one of my clients and called a friend I knew in Dubai. She helped me run away and report my circumstances to a charity organization there. In short order I was able to flee back to my home. This was the same home I had hoped to escape. I returned to the same crushing poverty, unemployment, and worst of all no prospects of ever meeting a good husband. After all what man would want damaged goods like myself."

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Human Slave Trade has become an increasing concern for countries in Europe since the fall of Communism. The transition to a market economy in some countries has led to both opportunity and a loss of security for citizens of these countries. Economic hardship and promises of prosperity have left many people vulnerable to trafficking within their countries and to destinations in other parts of Europe and the world. Unique to the Balkans are some of the situations that support trafficking, such as organized crime, and the recruitment strategies that perpetuate it. 
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The greatest factor contributing to the explosion of sex slavery trafficking is the collapse of the Soviet Union.   It provided both human capital and new regional opportunities to fuel the expansion.   After this period, trafficking victims, primarily women, expanded to include more diverse forms, aided by the rise of organized crime, corruption, and the decline of borders. Porous borders and close proximity of wealthy countries have made it easier and cheaper to transport women and young children to countries abroad.
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The distinctiveness of post-Soviet and Eastern European human sex slave trafficking is the speed with which it metastasized and globalized.  Previously, there was no established networks to facilitate such an vile commodity.  Instead, the conditions of the formerly militarized societies created the ideal conditions conducive to the modern slave trade.  Heavily armed men, trained in covert warfare, with no compunction on killing, coupled with knowledge and complicity of local and state law enforcement made this transition from  post-Soviet to quasi-capitalism.
In the new Eastern Europe the slave trade is driven by the supply of poor, uneducated young women and children who have become the new economic driver for the organized crime groups endemic in the region. 
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If you or anyone you know needs help, has been kidnapped by a pimp or a gang, or if you are in too deep and need help getting out...  

Email this website, leave a message in the comment section below and I will forward your contact information to the appropriate authorities. Or you can call the numbers below anywhere in the world and they will come for you. You are not alone, people honestly care about you, don't give up hope. There is a better tomorrow...   
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 In the European Union
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INTERPOL General Secretariat
200, quai Charles de Gaulle
69006 Lyon
Fax: +33 4 72 44 71 63

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In America 
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You can also call the F.B.I.
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