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From: Tanya Foundation (tanyaeurope@yahoo.com)
Date: Sun Jul 09 2000 - 04:48:37 EDT

Dear Melanie,

Please post this for me as I am at AIDS2000 and
can't use a subscribed account.

We have shown this story to over 50 Albanian sex
workers who have worked in Italy over the last
five years.

Not one woman knew of any such "auctions",
however the transfer of women between
exploitative managers is common and is tantamount
to slavery like exploitation in many cases.
"Auctions" might occur but they are not the
normal way that women are acquired or

It is now increasing common for exploited women
to hit back at such agents by arranging their
arrest by the vice police. In Lyon more than 16
Albanian men are in custody after such
denounciations, and most other managers have fled
the city. The local prosecutor is seeking 10+
years for each man under existing aggravated
exploitation laws.

Managering women with whom the man does not have
an emotional connection usually involving complex
codependency is being considered increasingly
high risk by exploitative managers. Unconnected
women are increasingly leaving exploitative
managers and seeking better working conditions,
often after contriving the arrest of the

Albanian women have also established a
sophisticated repeat migration strategy that now
allows many of them to return to Albania alone,
for several weeks and then return again to the EU
for sex work. This repeat migration option is
reported by the women as having improved their
quality of life as they can now have better
contact with their families in Albania. This
repeat migration is also encouraging women to
reassess the value of relationships with men who
have apparently achieved very little with the
large sums that have been remitted back to them
in Albania by their sex working partners.
Promised houses have not been built, other
investments have not been made. There is now
growing dissent and discontent among many women
who had considered their sex work to be a
temporary condition by which tangible permanent
assets might be acquired.

Albanian authorities are still detaining women
who return to Albania "looking like whores".
Deported women are being detained by the Albanian
police and are usually only being released into
the "care" of male relatives to protect them from
further exploitation?? In reality managers often
use this system to prevent women from
disappearing in Albania should they be deported,
and as such the police hold the women for
collection by the agents of the managers. The
other common practice is to call the family of
the woman detained and ask them, "to come and
collect their whore daughter." An excellent
strategy for ensuring the complete stigmatising
of any woman.

The repeated request of Albanian sex workers is
to have the freedom to travel in Europe so they
would not be dependent on agents to organise
their work. They would also like more work to be
done on reducing stigma in Albania.


John Davies

--- Melanie Orhant <morhant@igc.org> wrote:
> Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2000 21:28:11 -0400
> Reply-to: stop-traffic@friends-partners.org
> From: Melanie Orhant <morhant@igc.org>
> To: Multiple recipients of list STOP-TRAFFIC
> <stop-traffic@friends-partners.org>
> By Rory Carroll in Rome.
> Women tell of being sold to pimps by the Balkan
> mafia and beaten if they
> resist or fail to earn enough on the streets
> Rory Carroll in Rome
> Angela always liked attention, but the day she
> was forced to stand naked on
> a block for men to poke, pinch and haggle over
> her worth ended that.
> Now she sells herself every night, but
> sometimes she hovers just beyond the
> streetlamp so that motorists may whizz by
> without noticing her.
> Six months on Via Salaria, a motorway just
> north of Rome, has sharpened her
> memory of walking with her boyfriend to the
> outskirts of Tirana, the
> Albanian capital, to meet a contact. Their
> future had arrived, he told her.
> It was a posh house with a long drive and
> inside groups of men were waiting
> for her and a dozen other girls. `Strip,' her
> boyfriend whispered, and she
> didn't know what else to do, so she did.
> The wooden block was the size of a railway
> sleeper, too low to make her
> visible to the whole room but enough to give a
> sense of occasion. It was,
> after all, an auction. Inspection was allowed
> before bidding.
> The buyers were not rough. Some checked her
> veins, rolled her tummy between
> forefinger and thumb, counted her teeth, felt
> her breasts. Some did not
> bother and just looked. The opening bid was
> #400. It seemed like an awful
> lot, but the price went up. To be blond and 19
> was to be in demand. Within
> minutes she had fetched #900. Another girl was
> guided to the block and
> Angela stumbled away.
> That was in November. Tonight she is wearing a
> black miniskirt, grey
> T-shirt, green nail polish and brown lipstick.
> `This is my work outfit,'
> she says, gazing out of the car window and
> fretting about returning to her
> street lamp.
> Angela is a false name, but her ordeal is
> becoming the reality for an
> increasing number of young women from
> south-eastern Europe. Albanian gangs
> have taken over prostitution and rewritten the
> rules to make it an industry
> that is bigger, bolder and more brutal. Porous
> borders and lawlessness in
> former Yugoslavia and Albania have created
> ideal conditions, according to
> the United Nations. Bulk orders
> Such is the industry's scale and confidence
> that gangs in Italy send bulk
> orders for the number and type of women.
> Colleagues in the Balkans oblige
> by rounding up women, not always against their
> will, and holding auctions,
> says Miriam Lani, who helps former prostitutes
> for the charity Caritas in
> Rome.
> `Auctions usually take place in source
> countries, in areas controlled by
> the local mafia. They are well protected. They
> are efficient ways of doing
> business.'
> But the auctions are moving to Italy, where
> about half of the estimated
> 50-70,000 prostitutes are foreigners. Two years
> ago auctions were held only
> in the Balkans, says a Rome detective, but the
> need to rotate prostitutes
> around different cities to elude the police
> creates a market. Typically,
> the bidders gather in motorway lay-bys or
> service station carparks. The
> business is unchallenged, since the Italian
> mafia melted away in the face
> of the Balkan onslaught. Last month the police
> in Matera, in southern
> Italy, rescued two Romanians, aged 19 and 22,
> who were exhibited nude to
> Serbian, Montenegrin and Albanian gangs.
> Back in the Via Salaria in Rome, Angela is
> beginning to panic. She has been
> away from her post for 20 minutes - too long -
> and she is not supposed to
> talk. It is only two hours to her midnight
> deadline and since 6pm she has
> made less than #100, mostly from #15 sessions
> of oral sex. `It's not
> enough. What will I tell him?'
> Some nights, when she cannot face the work, she
> lurks in the shadows beyond
> the streetlight. Just a few years of
> prostitution and then they would have
> enough money to marry, her boyfriend had told
> her, but she has not seen him
> since the auction. The man in her life now is
> her buyer, and she must earn
> back his #900 purchase money and endless costs.
> He pays for her food, rent,
> clothes, condoms and make-up. Though she speaks
> good Italian, her pimp is
> virtually the only person she knows in Italy.
> Her documents were left in
> Albania.
> Police cars cruise past, but Angela refuses to
> seek help. Shouting and
> shaking, she insists on being returned to her
> spot. Twelve minutes later
> she vanishes into a red Audi. Frightened
> By midnight Angela is gone from Via Salaria,
> but other prostitutes know of
> her. `She tells clients she's 24 but she's 19.
> She's always frightened but
> there are others a lot, lot younger,' says
> Tanya, a 28-year-old Russian.
> The auctions are churning out too many girls,
> she complains. `Two years ago
> there were two or three of us on this stretch.
> Now look at it, there's at
> least 30.'
> A Ukranian, also 28, says the Albanians and
> Romanians tend to be younger
> and more pliable. `They never work for
> themselves, they're like sheep.'
> Escape can be as easy as hailing a police car,
> but they are inhibited by
> fear of retaliation against their families back
> home, says Miriam Lani of
> Caritas. Others have told their families that
> they are waitresses or
> dancers, and fear blackmail.
> Jailed pimps have been known, upon release, to
> track down the girl who
> betrayed them. `These men are extremely
> violent, and they keep discipline
> by making examples of those who step out of
> line,' says Ms Lani. Virtually
> every week two-paragraph stories in Italian
> newspapers report the discovery
> of a streetwalker's corpse, often burned. Biba
> Merita, a 17-year-old
> Albanian, was beaten to death in Treviso after
> being diagnosed with a brain
> tumour. She had been bought and sold many times
> during her four-year
> career.
> This new generation of streetwalker is
> different, says Nicola Maria Pace, a
> prosecutor in Trieste. `My personal observation
> is that they have neither
> the look nor the mentality of prostitutes. They
> are often very young.
> They're usually resold after being on the
> streets for a certain time, and
> taken to a different area.'
> Most prostitutes are volunteers fleeing
> poverty, the police say, though if
> arrested, the girls tend to claim that they
> were coerced. What the women do
> not anticipate are the beatings and auctions.
> Being sold to strangers must
> be terrifying for those who expected to be
> managed by their boyfriends or
> relatives, says Father Piero, who makes weekly
> prayer and counselling
> visits to Via Salaria's prostitutes. `Knowing
> who they'll be working for,
> that's their only real safety.'.
> GUARDIAN 23/05/2000 P19

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