[Stop-traffic] Bombing: Russian sex workers

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] Bombing: Russian sex workers
From: Ann Jordan (Annj@HRLawgroup.org)
Date: Fri Sep 08 2000 - 14:53:59 EDT


#9
Moscow Times
September 8, 2000
EDITORIAL: No Safety For Moscow Prostitutes

You've seen them. The hundreds of women that gather nightly on Moscow's
busiest thoroughfares, in courtyards, alleyways and even the quietest
nooks
of the city's more peaceful neighborhoods. Cars skim past, headlights
shining, and deals are quickly brokered. Like Chechen arrest quotas and
random document checks, prostitution has become such an intrinsic
element of
the Moscow city tableau that it's easy to forget what a miserable
business it
is.

Occasionally there are reminders. Take Thursday's early morning attack
on a
group of prostitutes gathered on the northern end of the Garden Ring
Road.
The grenade attack left 16 people injured, eight seriously enough to be
hospitalized. Apart from one Muscovite, the victims were from the Tula
and
Ivanovo regions, Moldova and Ukraine.

Bomb-tossing is an increasingly frequent gesture in this violent city; a
quick fix for what irks you. The casual attitude is all the worse for
being commercially driven. Moscow's bustling sex trade f 70,000 women
reportedly work as prostitutes f has already reduced women to a dispensable
commodity. Thursday's incident strips them of their humanity altogether.

Police have not yet ruled out the latest motive du jour,
Chechen-sponsored terrorism. But what seems far likelier is that the attack
was a simple chess move in the city's ongoing turf warfare over the
prostitution business.

Moscow's sex trade is such a success that it has several spin-off
enterprises
as well f including roadside service for travelers heading in from
Sheremetyevo Airport and a citywide network of old women who stand just
down
the road from the prostitutes, holding signs saying they will rent out
their
apartments for nightly trysts. It is a dirty business, like anywhere,
that
thrives on a steady supply of impoverished and desperate young women.
And in
Russia, it is given an extra boost by the country's absolute lack of
protective legislation and a society that continues to put women low on
the
food chain.

The majority of Moscow's prostitutes are reportedly from the regions and

neighboring countries, driven to Russia's capital city out of aching
poverty
and then literally enslaved, earning next to nothing while being exposed

every day to abuse and the very real dangers of life on the street.
People
can dismiss Thursday's attack as something that could never happen to
them f
as a less morally outrageous crime than last month's underpass bombing,
for
example f but that only skirts the terrible truth that Moscow's most
miserable job just got worse.

******

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