News/Bulgaria: Bulgaria to curb smuggling of women for sex trade

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Subject: News/Bulgaria: Bulgaria to curb smuggling of women for sex trade
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Thu Apr 20 2000 - 13:22:15 EDT


            Bulgaria to curb smuggling of women for sex trade

Reuters Ltd.

     By Galina Sabeva
      SOFIA, March 15 (Reuters) - Bulgarian officials and members of rights
groups met on Wednesday to work out a plan for stopping the enslavement of
Bulgarian women for work in the sex industry abroad.
      Activists estimated that some 10,000 Bulgarians, many under 18, are
trapped in such work throughout Europe.
      "It is a growing problem with so many aspects -- human, criminal,
social, legislative -- and could be fought only by decisive joint efforts
by all organisations and government institutions involved in combating
traffic in women," said Nadya Kozhuharova, who heads the local office of La
Strada, a European Union-funded project for fighting trafficking in women.
      The two-day meeting groups government officials, border control
officers and representatives of La Strada and intends to produce an action
plan by the end of the year, Kozhuharova told a news conference.
      Kozhuharova said Bulgarians were lured into the international sex
trade through two channels -- one through the Czech Republic and Poland to
Germany, Italy and the Netherlands and the other to Greece, Macedonia,
Albania and Turkey.
      "It is difficult to estimate the number of Bulgarian women who are
currently trapped in sex slavery abroad, but it is seen to be around
10,000, many under age of 18," she said.
      Many of the women are lured into leaving home by newspaper
advertisements promising work as models, dancers, shop assistants,
baby-sitters, waitresses and maids. Others, especially from smaller
villages, are kidnapped and smuggled over the border.
      According to a survey carried out by the local office of the
International Organisation for Migration, 25 percent of Bulgarian women
aged between 12 and 35 years are likely to take a risky job abroad through
a newspaper add, Kozhuharova said.
      "Poverty, desire to live abroad, social insecurity and lack of life
experience are main reasons why so many Bulgarian women become victims of
sex slavery abroad," she said.
      The growing involvement of Bulgarian women in prostitution, both at
home or abroad, is one of the most brutal results of the economic hardship
that has accompanied Bulgaria's transition to a free market economy after
communist rule ended 10 years ago.


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