R: [Stop-traffic] News/Albania: Fleeing poverty, finding slavery

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Subject: R: [Stop-traffic] News/Albania: Fleeing poverty, finding slavery
From: Comitato D.C.P. - Tampep Italia (lucciole@iol.it)
Date: Tue Aug 29 2000 - 14:09:14 EDT

dear list
I'm working in Italy in projects of harm reduction and HIV prevention in the
field of prostitution.
With many other NGO and GO groups we do street work and visit clubs to get
in touch with the women working in the sex industry.
Since the 1994 we had a growing fenomena from Albania and following with the
former URSS. In the96 and 98 the NGO working in the street in Italy made a
stima of the number of prostitutes, the result published in a very seriuos
book (Annuario Sociale 1999-ed. Gruppo Abele,Torino Italy) are:immigrant
prostitutes working in the street in the year 1996 min. 18.800 max. 25.100,
in the year 1998 min. 14.765 max. 19.289. From 99 to now the fenomena of
street prostitution is decreasing, the police raid are very common and a
great number of women are deported, albanian and others from Est Europe are
send to Albania by ferry and they soon return with the traficker boat's.
For the Nigerian and the Latin American the deportation is less common but
they are often imprisoned in the place for illegal immigrant for one month,
some time after his they are deported.
The repression against the women from the police have the result to make the
problem go "underground", but we believe in this moment the albanian women
are not more thet 5000.
In Italy 49 project have been financed from the Governament - Social Affaire
and Pari Opportunità for the year 2000 to help the victims of traficking and
a national free call phone line 800 290 290 for seeking help.
Pia Covre
Comitato per i diritti civili delle Prostitute lucciole@iol.it

-----Messaggio Originale-----
Da: Melanie Orhant <morhant@igc.org>
A: <stop-traffic@friends-partners.org>
Data invio: martedì 29 agosto 2000 15.10
Oggetto: [Stop-traffic] News/Albania: Fleeing poverty, finding slavery

> May 12, 2000
> Fleeing poverty, finding slavery
> Day 1 of the series
> Second of two parts
> By Jeffrey Fleishman
> VLORA, Albania - Anna Melnic was sold for $1,000.
> She was hustled out of her native Moldova on a train. She woke up in
> Romania. She was beaten, raped, and driven across Yugoslavia. In the
> foothills of Albania, she was passed to a pimp, ending up in this port
> city, where she jumped off a fourth-floor balcony trying to escape her
> fate, a smuggler's boat bound for Italy.
> "My mother died five years ago. My father is a drunk," Melnic said the
> other day from her hospital bed. "I wanted to get away. I knew I was
> to be a prostitute, but my plan was to escape those men and find a good
> job. I never knew it would be like this. I was locked up and fed by a guy
> who came once a day with meat."
> At 17, Melnic was not as clever as the men with the fists and guns.
> Sold by a Yugoslav gangster to an Albanian pimp, she became one of an
> estimated 175,000 to 300,000 girls and women trafficked across Europe each
> year. Depending on beauty, age and virginity, they are bought by criminals
> for $1,000 to $5,000. Some enter the market voluntarily. Others are
> kidnapped. Many are duped into believing they will become secretaries,
> models, au pairs, nurses and dancers.
> They are the slaves in a worldwide people-smuggling industry. Using
> organized-crime clans and well-traveled routes, about four million
people -
> migrant workers, illegal immigrants, refugees and prostitutes - are
> channeled around the globe each year. Some find prosperity. Others die
> along the way.
> Girls such as Melnic want to flee the poor countries of Eastern Europe and
> the former Soviet republics. But the promise of the West eludes them. They
> become tangled in a world where, like guns and drugs, they are just
> form of contraband. Their wills are broken by beatings and rapes. In many
> cases, they are drugged and sold several times within a matter of weeks.
> Some wind up turning tricks in New York or Atlanta. The U.S. State
> Department reports that each year, 50,000 to 100,000 women and children
> forced into the United States against their will. Overall, government
> statistics estimate that 700,000 females - coming from nations ranging
> Honduras to Thailand - are annually sold worldwide into slavery and
> prostitution rings.
> "But the pattern of the trade is clearly changing," said Franck Laczko, a
> researcher with the International Office of Migration. "More and more
> are coming from Central and Eastern Europe . . . and a growing number of
> them are very young."
> Consider the plight of Jonela, a 26-year-old Romanian.
> "I agreed to go to Italy to dance but not to prostitute," she said. "A man
> named Meli bought me. He raped me. There were two pistols on the table.
> Then a man named Miri took me. He had three bodyguards. He drove me into
> Albania. Miri sold me and another girl to an old man. He kept us locked
> "He and his friends came every night to rape us. Every time I was raped I
> thought of my child. I thought I am lost forever and my boy has no
> Like thousands of other girls and women, Jonela was smuggled along a
> well-worn route out of Eastern Europe. Taken from the Romanian town of
> Foscani, she was whisked into Yugoslavia, moving west to Belgrade and on
> Montenegro. She was dragged onto a speedboat and raped by several men
> crossing a lake into Albania.
> She later escaped. But most in her circumstances end up in Vlora, awaiting
> their final destinations to Europe's largest cities.
> Awash in corruption, Albania - Europe's poorest nation - has become a hub
> for prostitution trafficking.
> Loosely connected Albanian clans operate as middlemen for the smuggling
> enterprises of Russian and Chinese mafias. Albanians keep females
> in houses and hotels along the southern coast. On nights of calm seas, the
> women are loaded onto rubber boats with 500-horsepower engines waiting to
> cross the Adriatic.
> Ninety minutes later they reach Italy, where new owners and northbound
> taxis and trains await them.
> "Even in Italy, many of the prostitution rings are run by Albanians," said
> Sergio Mario Tosi, a prosecutor in the Italian port city of Brindisi, a
> favorite destination of smuggling boats. "The Italian mafia has a cultural
> thing about prostitution. They think it's degrading. But the Albanians are
> vicious. They rape women to destroy them mentally. They make them slaves.
> Girls as young as 12 years old are put on the streets and forced to earn
> $500 a night."
> The surge in Albanian females forced into prostitution mirrors the pattern
> of increased trafficking across the continent: In 1998, more than 8,000
> Albanian girls and women - 30 percent of whom were under 18 - were working
> as prostitutes in Italy. That number today, according to human-rights
> groups, has risen to at least 20,000.
> Albania has few laws for prostitution trafficking. A trafficker can face
> to 15 years in prison, but many end up paying only small fines. Most are
> never arrested. Police earn about $120 a month and are easily bribed. In
> Vlora in 1998, when more than 200 smuggling boats daily crammed the
> city records show police made no prostitution-trafficking arrests.
> The lack of strict laws reflects a patriarchal culture that often
> denigrates women. Until the 1960s, many Albanian girls were sold into
> marriages by parents wanting to strengthen clan ties. Mountain custom had
> it that a bullet was sewn into the dress of a bride. If she disrespected
> her husband, rural justice permitted her execution. This cultural legacy
> and the country's destitution - 80 percent of families in the northern
> mountains live in poverty - have led some families to sell their girls
> prostitution, according to lawyers and aid
> workers.
> "An Albanian girl handed to traffickers is doomed," said Giulia Falzoi, an
> Italian human-rights worker who deports illegal immigrants. "She cannot
> even start a new life if she is arrested and sent back to Albania. Her
> family has disowned her. She is psychologically damaged. The trafficker
> either kills her or puts her on a boat back to Italy."
> Police in Vlora this year have so far arrested 58 Albanian prostitutes
> bound for big cities in Europe. Twenty-seven came from rural villages.
> Three were sold by their families. Others - some as young as 15 - were
> tricked into false marriages and ferried across the Adriatic Sea to the
> streets of Rome and Bari.
> "They feel so much shame that they never will come back," said Vera Lesko,
> director of the Vlora Women's Hearth Group, whose home was attacked by
> smugglers two years ago after she took a prostitute off the street. "If a
> girl does return, there's no programs here to help them. I can't help all
> these girls. It hurts my soul."
> Geography and international politics have made Albania a strategic transit
> point for Europe's prostitution trafficking. Bordering the Yugoslav
> provinces of Montenegro and Kosovo, Albania is a Balkan gateway. Ten years
> of economic sanctions against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic have
> transformed Yugoslavia into a mafia paradise. And, increasingly,
> from drugs to women is channeled through Yugoslavia before reaching
> and ultimately Western Europe.
> Over the last year, scores of girls from Romania, Latvia and Ukraine, who
> normally would have been brought into Italy, have been sent to Kosovo as
> prostitutes for the 40,000 NATO troops based there. Others are held
> and become sex slaves for drug barons. Many more serve businessmen and
> politicians in Belgrade and Tirana.
> "The West put sanctions on Milosevic. It intervened with a war in Kosovo,"
> said Kazuki Itaya, a Tirana-based program officer for the International
> Organization for Migration. "But Western intervention in the name of peace
> is fueling a lot of criminality."
> Consider Bosnia. Six years after ethnic war ravaged the land, thousands of
> girls and women have been trafficked in to serve criminals and workers for
> international organizations. In testimony before a U.S. Senate Foreign
> Relations subcommittee in February, Regan E. Ralph, director of the
> rights division for Human Rights Watch, gave the following account:
> The International Police Task Force and other Western organizations have
> been well aware of Bosnia's prostitution rackets, "but little was done to
> prevent the trafficking. . . . We even found evidence that some officials
> [from international organizations] were actively complicit in these
> participating in the trafficking. . . ."
> A teenager's loss of innocence
> Fifteen-year-old Pane Rezearta was robbed of her virginity on a dirt floor
> in an abandoned warehouse.
> A petite Albanian girl in coveralls, tinted bangs covering her brown eyes,
> Rezearta today is in police custody. She sat in a plastic chair, her black
> boots not touching the ground. Through an interpreter, she whispered her
> story of rape and kidnapping, and how she was loaded onto a rubber boat
> that bumped over rough seas to Italy.
> Italian authorities want Rezearta to testify against nine traffickers -
> eight Albanians and one Italian. But the daughter of a bricklayer from
> Vlora is facing another kind of justice: Her family has been threatened
> that if she appears in court, her mother, father and sisters will be
> murdered by criminal gangs.
> Rezearta's ordeal began with a call from a schoolmate.
> On Oct. 26, 1999, Rezearta was invited by her friend Eliona to spend the
> night while Eliona's parents were away. Rezearta said she planned to help
> Eliona do some chores and watch TV. But Eliona's brother, Alket, had other
> plans.
> "When I got to the house, they treated me very well," said Rezearta. "Then
> Alket wanted me to go with him. I had only met him two days earlier. He
> took me to a building. It was an old warehouse that made paper. He raped
> me."
> Over the next three days, Rezearta said, she was kept locked in Eliona's
> home and raped in the warehouse every night by Alket. Rezearta's parents
> did not go looking for her. Prosecutor Mario Tosi suspects the parents may
> have sold their daughter after being tricked into believing she would be
> married and settled into a good life in Italy.
> Italian authorities and court records allege that Alket and his gang
> trafficked females throughout the Balkans. Alket told Rezearta another
> story: "He said to me, 'Pane, you'll be my wife.' "
> On the fourth day, Rezearta said, "Alket's father, Agim, came home and
> raped me. He said into my ear: 'Now I know what I'm going to do with you.
> You're going to Italy to make a lot of money.' "
> The next night, up a ragged stretch of Albanian coast, Rezearta was driven
> to a small cove near the town of Levane. She heard the throaty growl of a
> motor. A rubber boat appeared. She and 30 others - prostitutes and illegal
> immigrants from other countries - were put aboard. Hours later, soaked by
> whitecapped sea, Rezearta landed on a thread of beach near Brindisi.
> Rezearta was driven to a small house in the town of Ostuni. Over the next
> few days, she said, she was forced to have sex with several men.
> "It was 4 a.m. No one told me anything," she said. "I got up to go to the
> bathroom and a man named Arian followed me in and raped me. I was scared
> go back to my room, so I stayed in the bathroom. But then the leader
> arrived. His name was Dorian. He came in to take a shower and raped me.
> Later the next day, I heard them talking on the phone. They said something
> about going to Rome later that night. It was then I knew I'd be a
> prostitute."
> What occurred during the ensuing hours is confusing. Rezearta and Italian
> authorities say Rezearta persuaded one of her captors to use the telephone
> to call her parents in Albania to tell them she was safe. After the call,
> Rezearta's father, Isuf, contacted the Albanian police, who alerted
> authorities.
> At 5 p.m., just as she was boarding a train to Rome, police rescued
> Rezearta and arrested her kidnappers.
> Plan for getting to Italy backfires
> No one saved Anna Melnic.
> She lies in Bed 68 in a room she shares with five other women in the Vlora
> Hospital. Her 40-foot fall from a balcony has left her spotted with
> bruises. Vomit stains the floor beneath her. She does not speak the
> language of her doctors. Every face entering the room startles her. The
> who own her want her dead or turning tricks.
> When she left Moldova, she had imagined a good job and maybe a boyfriend
> Italy. She was beaten and locked up instead. She did, after all, agree to
> be a prostitute. But that was only a ruse, a young girl's ploy to get away
> from a drunken father and a dreary life. It would never happen, she
> Today, she knows better. But her prospects have not improved.
> "I cannot prostitute," she said. "But I can't go back to my father,
> There is nothing for a good life in Moldova. I have an aunt in Russia, but
> that's too far away. I guess I'll be alone somewhere."
> As she spoke, a doctor rushed down the hall.
> "Does anyone speak Romanian? Does anyone speak Romanian?" he said. The
> police had brought in another woman who had been bloodied by the men who
> bought her.
> Jeffrey Fleishman's e-mail address is foreign@phillynews.com
> C2000 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
> Melanie Orhant
> Stop-Traffic Moderator
> Please contact me off-list for any questions about Stop-Traffic at
> Women's Reproductive Health Initiative
> Program for Appropriate Technology in Health
> __________________
> Stop-traffic is facilitated, international electronic list
> funded by the Women's Reproductive Health Initiative
> of the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)
> dealing with human rights abuses associated with trafficking
> in persons, with an emphasis on public health and trafficking
> in persons for forced labor, including forced prostitution,
> sweatshop labor, domestic service and some coercive mail
> order bride arrangements.
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