Subject: [Stop-traffic] Another conference wants more information
From: Migration Research (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun Nov 19 2000 - 04:35:17 EST
The woman in following article clearly identifies her illegal migration
status as being a factor in deterring her from seeking help from the
The conference also concludes that more information is required, so instead
of information that will help women migrate safely. We have another campaign
designed to scare women into not migrating.
It is quite incredible how the majority of campaigns designed to "protect
women" also have a perfect fit with the immigration deterrence policies of
the EU states. These are campaigns intended to reduce female migration by
using fear of exploitation and abuse. They do not help women actually
migrate safely nor empower them to engage in sex work or other labour
migration in a safe and secure way.
It will be so interesting to watch over the next fifty years as the EU
demographics of population ageing and decline require that the EU admits
hundreds of thousands of women to undertake domestic and caring work, and
also other labour, how the EU will turn from deterring the migration of
women to plundering the female workforces of various nations for its own
needs. I will not be surprised when suddenly female migration to the EU
becomes "safe, attractive and promoted".
I suppose all the EU funded NGOs will then turn into "safe employment
agencies and migration advice centres" by which "foreign" women can find
approved, nice, moral and most likely poorly paid jobs in the EU.
I have been unable to provide a working url for this article because its
seems the site is on some time limitation system.
Russians launch crackdown on 'sex slave' traffickers
Campaigners attack 'risk-free' trade in women, reports Amelia Gentleman
Special report: Russia
Sunday November 12, 2000
Had it not been for the long queue for tickets at St Petersburg's central
railway station, Lara Matveyeva might never have found herself working in a
German brothel - one of hundreds of thousands of East European women
unwittingly sold into prostitution in the West.
As it was, the slow movement of the queue provided an ideal forum for
recruitment. The tedium of waiting was lifted by the appearance of a
friendly, well-dressed woman behind her.
Enticed into conversation, Lara told her that she was returning home to a
job and a town that bored her. The woman replied that she had a friend in
Germany who was looking for help with the housework for a few months, and
that if Lara was eager for a change she could put them in touch. The money
would be bad, but she would be required to do little except water the plants
and feed the pets; most importantly, it would be a chance to travel.
Only mildly surprised by this stranger's desire to be kind, Lara accepted. A
few days later she was travelling by bus to Hamburg. A Russian woman was
there to meet her at the bus stop, accompanied her to a flat nearby and took
her passport from her - for safekeeping. After three days she told Lara,
then 24, that there was no housework to be done, so she would have to work
as a prostitute.
Intelligent and well-educated, it nevertheless took her six months to escape
from imprisonment in a series of bars and nightclubs in Hamburg and its
suburbs. Most of the other Russians she met there had given up even trying
to return home. Even now that she is back in her small provincial town on
the southern border with Ukraine, she remains so anxious about reprisals
from the people who organised her trip that she refuses to reveal her real
Her horror at her own experience and at the scale of the problem in Russia
motivated her - in spite of the dangers - to start tackling the problem. She
was one of the participants at a conference of 43 anti-trafficking
organisations from 25 regions of Russia and six former Soviet republics that
finished last week.
These groups hope to combat a phenomenon that, according to the Organisation
for Security and Co-operation in Europe, has swept up something like 500,000
Russian women in the past decade (although the trade's clandestine nature
makes it impossible to estimate accurately the numbers). Activists say that,
despite its scale, human trafficking is still not treated seriously by the
'There is a great reluctance to recognise and address this problem,' said
one of the conference organisers, who also requested anonymity. 'The reality
is that it is a modern slave trade, just as profitable as it was 200 years
The trade stems from a mixture of poverty, naivety, a weak legal system and
a prevalence of well-organised criminal groups. Ignorance lies at the heart
of the problem. According to MiraMed, the charity that organised this
month's conference, around 90 per cent of the women trafficked abroad are
unaware that they are headed for a career in the sex industry.
The small ads columns of provincial newspapers are filled with adverts
encouraging young, attractive women to apply for work as waitresses in Italy
or barmaids and nannies in Germany.
With the economy in Russia's remote regions deeply depressed, many women are
desperate for an escape. The novelty of travel in the West remains high,
while awareness about life there is low. Not suspecting any possible threat,
the women - mostly in their teens or early twenties - are easy prey.
For the groups organising the trafficking there are few obstacles. Compared
with selling drugs or weapons abroad, trade in women is highly profitable
and relatively risk-free. Unlike guns or drugs, women can be sold over and
over again, acting as a regular, long-term source of income. And, crucially,
in Russia there is still no specific legislation which decrees illegal the
trade in humans . The few women who make their way back to Russia have no
recourse to the law. Even now, two years after her return, she has told none
of her friends or family about what happened in Germany; they believe she
spent an uneventful few months as an au pair.
The memory of those months remains painful. 'I'm not scared of anything any
more because the worst thing that could possibly happen to me already has.
Very few of the women I met had willingly become prostitutes. Most were
tricked. Most alarming was the sense that there was no way out. Our
passports had been taken; we spoke no German and knew nothing about the
country, so we didn't know what punishment would face us if we went to the
police. We were illegal immigrants involved in an illegal activity - we
didn't expect any sympathy.
'To begin with I refused to do the work, but later I had to - there was no
other way of feeding myself, and by that time I had seen the beatings other
women got when they refused to co-operate.'
Each of the new recruits was presented with instant debts to their pimps of
around $1,000. The bar's exits were monitored by security cameras,
heightening the sense that there was no escape.
When the woman who had first pushed her into prostitution decided she was no
good at it, Lara was sold on to a man for $1,000, the sum of her 'debts'. It
was only when his bar was raided and she was arrested that she realised the
police were not as terrifying as she had anticipated. They spoke no Russian,
so she was never able to explain her situation, but they handed her a
deportation order and she was able to leave.
The main conclusion to come out of this month's anti-trafficking conference
was the need for greater information. A privately sponsored advertising
campaign showing pretty young fish being ensnared by evil fishermen is soon
to run on regional television, and lectures in schools are being organised
to warn girls to be wary of offers of casual labour abroad.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2000
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