Subject: KOSOVO: UN Concerned About Increased Sex Trafficking
From: Vanessa Lesnie (lesniev@LCHR.ORG)
Date: Mon Apr 24 2000 - 13:20:44 EDT
KOSOVO: UN Concerned About Increased Sex Trafficking
After rescuing 50 Moldovan, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and Romanian women
from brothels in Kosovo in the past six months, UN police officials say they
believe hundreds more may be living as sex slaves, lured from poor countries
with the promise of a better life.
"These women have been reduced to slavery," said Colonel Vincenzo
Coppola, a commander of the Italian national police that has rescued 23
women during brothel raids.
The Washington Post reports that UN police, NATO peacekeepers and
humanitarian workers say the lack of a criminal justice system in Kosovo
plus the presence of foreign troops and permeable borders provides ideal
circumstances for sex trafficking.
Girls as young as 15 are transported along an established criminal
network to Macedonia, where they are held in motels and sold at auction to
Albanian pimps for between $1,000 and $2,500. The women's passports are
taken from them, and they are forced to have frequent unprotected sex for no
payment, unidentified UN police officers told the Post.
Officials say the sex trade functions under the authority of major
crime figures in Kosovo, including some with connections to the Kosovo
UN forces say they are understaffed to handle the amount of criminal
activity in the region, and authorities have not made the sex trade a high
priority. Sex trafficking has also grown because some officials have
dismissed the situations as simple prostitution. International aid workers,
however, are trying to change that perspective.
"It's not classic prostitution," said one aid worker, who has
interviewed rescued women and is preparing a UN draft resolution to punish
sex traffickers. "They are not paid. They are never paid. Of the 50 women we
have seen, not one has received a single deutsche mark, and they are often
held in horrendous conditions" (Peter Finn, Washington Post, 24 Apr).
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