Subject: Re: [Stop-traffic] The Economist on Trafficking in women in Europe
From: Neeley Main (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Aug 29 2000 - 20:25:14 EDT
I was just wondering if anyone else had any problems with this article? I realize that the article focused on the trafficking of women within Europe, but I am concerned with the statement "Simplistically, there is a two-step movement of women from east to west. First, of Russians, Ukrainians, Moldovans and Belarussians into the trade in Central Europe; second, of these women and Central Europeans to western cities." This is obviously not the case, when women from Central Europe have been "east" such as in Russia and Ukraine. So it is not just a 'simplistic two-step movement'.
The other issue that I have with the article is that it does not mention that women from this region have been found in a number of Asian countries as well. The article makes it sound as if it is a problem that is mainly European, and there is no connection to the flourishing trade of women from this region into all world regions.
I am also surprised that this article did not mention the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime which is on its way to being adopted. As, I am sure that most of you are aware, this convention will have three protocols, one of which will deal with the trafficking in women.
I am happy that there was an article in a publication such as The Economist, I just wish that it was a little better written.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Harsh Kapoor" <email@example.com>
Sent: Saturday, August 26, 2000 10:23 AM
Subject: [Stop-traffic] The Economist on Trafficking in women in Europe
> The Economist
> August 26th - September 1st, 2000
> Trafficking in women
> In the shadows
> P R A G U E
> Organised criminals run a thriving business smuggling women for the sex
> industry. What can be done to thwart them?
> IN THE brothels off Wenceslas Square, in central Prague, sexual
> intercourse can be bought for $25-about half the price charged at a
> German brothel. Step inside and upstairs, past the strip joint and the
> peep show, and the cut-price approach shows. Spent condoms fill plastic
> buckets in the corridor; stained carpets line sweaty little rooms; young
> women guard the doorways, wearing not so much bored as vacant
> The corpses of several hundred trafficked women-strangled, shot, or
> beaten to a pulp-fetch up around Europe each year. Many more bodies,
> Europol reckons, are never found. The organised gangs of traffickers who
> lure and smuggle young women, mostly from Eastern and Central Europe,
> into prostitution are ruthless. In January, a group of 22 women being
> led across a mountain range into Greece via Bulgaria were abandoned by
> their traffickers when a blizzard struck. Two women froze to death
> before Greek border troops could reach them.
> Conservative estimates put the number of women smuggled each year into
> the European Union and the more prosperous Central European countries at
> 300,000, though not all end up in the sex trade. But the figure could
> well be double that. There are some 20,000 women in 600 or so brothels
> in the Czech Republic alone, most of them foreigners smuggled into the
> country. Ukraine's interior ministry reckons that many of the 400,000
> Ukrainian women who have left the country since independence have been
> drawn into the sex industry.
> While the illicit and violent nature of the trade makes accurate
> monitoring impossible, a clear pattern seems to have emerged since
> communism's collapse. Simplistically, there is a two-step movement of
> women from east to west. First, of Russians, Ukrainians, Moldovans and
> Belarussians into the trade in Central Europe; second, of these women
> and Central Europeans to western cities. These days, Slav women have
> supplanted Filipinas and Thais as the most common foreign offering in
> Europe's brothels.
> Some trafficked women do prosper in the sex business, which in Europe is
> thought to be worth some $9 billion a year. They are the ones who
> graduate to work for the lucrative escort agencies. But many more,
> seduced by false promises of a better life, are financially, physically
> and mentally scarred.
> Recruitment follows a familiar pattern. A young woman, say from
> provincial Ukraine, almost certainly under 23 and often far younger, is
> approached by a trafficker. She is offered employment, usually as a
> waitress or maid, in Central or Western Europe. Having agreed, her
> underground journey takes her to a squalid way-station. There, her
> passport and identity papers are stolen, and she is sold, more or less
> as chattel, to brothel owners-many of them based in Germany, the chief
> destination for trafficked women-for a few thousand dollars. If she
> resists, she is isolated, beaten, and often raped. Thus broken, she
> begins her brothel career, held by means of physical abuse and debt
> bondage in involuntary sexual servitude.
> In the past year or so, the EU has been much exercised by the
> trafficking of immigrants in general. But that of women is a
> particularly tricky category. For one thing, the mainly Russian-speaking
> gangs who dominate this business-Albanian gangs concentrate on drugs-are
> highly organised. Often, the best that any police raid can hope for is
> to disrupt, or divert, the flow of women.
> For another, there is a powerful silence on the part of the women
> themselves. "Who is to say this Russian is a student and this one is a
> prostitute?" asks one Czech police chief. "Unless someone complains, we
> are powerless." This also makes it difficult for human-rights groups to
> help. "Their concern is survival, not feminism," says Iveta Bartumkova,
> of La Strada, an organisation which assists victims of trafficking
> across the region.
> Various ideas are circulating about how to combat this trade. In the
> Czech Republic, where prostitution is already legal, a new law is being
> drafted which is designed to crack down on "unlicensed" streetwalkers,
> while enforcing health and labour standards at state-sanctioned
> brothels. "We cannot suppress," argues Radim Bures, of the country's
> organised-crime unit, "but we can regulate prostitution, just as the
> Dutch and Austrians do, in order to minimise the negative aspects." Some
> anti-trafficking groups think greater transparency might empower the
> prostitutes, who often receive, at best, a meagre share of the cash paid
> by their clients. The European Commission is also pushing EU members to
> bring in a minimum common penalty for the crime of trafficking itself.
> A second approach is education. The International Organisation for
> Migration, a United Nations body, has underwritten several graphic
> campaigns in Central and Eastern Europe to stress to young girls the
> risks involved. The list of needs is long: safe houses for those fleeing
> pimps; witness protection for those ready to speak out; medical and
> psychiatric help. An accompanying effort to educate the men who pay for
> sex, suggest campaigners, might help curb demand.
> No amount of moralising, however, will have much effect unless a broader
> problem feeding the supply of women is confronted: the feminisation of
> poverty in Eastern Europe. Since the end of communism, women have
> experienced a disproportionate share of economic hardship. Two-thirds of
> Russia's unemployed, for example, are women. Women have increasingly
> become breadwinners for drunk or absent husbands, even as they have been
> squeezed from the workplace thanks to industrial restructuring. Lack of
> opportunity compels East European women to take risks their peers in
> Western Europe would never contemplate.
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