[Stop-traffic] The shame of the French state in exploiting trafficked women

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] The shame of the French state in exploiting trafficked women
From: Femmes de l'Est (femmesdelest@yahoo.com)
Date: Tue Nov 21 2000 - 14:16:38 EST


The shame of the French state in exploiting trafficked womenThe shame of the French state in exploiting trafficked women.

 

The 8th November 2000 was a shameful day for the nation of France as in a pique of xenophobic and moral hysteria it used the body of a young prostitute as shamelessly as any pimp. Elona Kodra was "F***** by France" for being Albanian, a woman, and being too terrified to testify against a manic criminal exploiter, so allowing herself to be presented as a willing accomplice to his crimes.

 

Elona was used and abused, as France sought to punish migrant women for "letting themselves" be victimized by exploiters. After a moral panic inspired by a sensationalist media that caused alarm and fear regarding the prostitution of women from Eastern Europe, the Vice squad in Lyon went out and arrested several Albanian men whom they accused of the exploitation of migrant prostitutes. During this prodigious exercise, almost two years ago, they "missed" arresting the three main ringleaders of this group, who fled France, allegedly having been warned by their own "local protectors" of the Police investigation.

 

However Elona was widely known to be controlled by the leader of this group and so she was arrested and threatened with pimping charges if she did not testify against her exploiter. Too scared because of threats against her family in Albania she refused and so she was charged with pimping the other women controlled by A****** T***, she was also charged with assisting the prostitution of other women.

 

The charge of exploitation was principally that she had shown another women bought and controlled by A****** T*** where and how to work as a prostitute. However this is a typical strategy of exploiting men and only shows that she was required to behave like any other controlled woman with absolute obedience or suffer the consequences. It was also suggested that she had sent more money than she could have earned herself to Albania, so therefore she had to have had financial control over other prostitutes. In fact she worked non-stop whatever her health condition, whatever the weather.

 

A****** took Elona as a teenager to Italy where she was forced by repeated beatings to prostitute herself. Other Albanian prostitutes who witnessed her terrible beatings at that time support this account of severe and regular abuse, which continued after she arrived in France.

 

In France she was the first Albanian prostitute to arrive in Lyon and as such this was another reason that she was most probably singled out to be the only woman from all of the foreign women in prostitution to be charged with a pimping offence.

 

Since her arrest almost two years ago, Elona has been on police bail that compelled her to remain in Lyon. While other migrant women fled exploiters by running to other cities, Elona was held by police supervision in Lyon. In fact the French state held her down so A******'s reign of terror could continue. This begs the question whom was really assisting the abusive prostitution of migrant women in Lyon?

 

I have personally watched her reduced to terror as her little brother has been dragged to a mobile telephone in Albania by accomplices of A****** and who have then threatened to kill the boy if she did not obey A******. While A****** has lived in luxury she has worked every day of the week from four in the afternoon until three in the following morning, seven days a week. She lives in a cheap hotel room and eats in fast food bars. She even has to work when she is ill.

 

Recently when A****** tried to force her to control another women she refused, for two nights she fled her hotel room and stayed with friends. Every hour she was receiving telephone threats from a trio of A****** and two others, until finally someone called and described how her little brother was in the street near her home in Tirana, talking with friends, this man described the brother, his features, his clothes and then he simply said I am going to walk over to him and shoot him in the head if you do not agree to help us. I watched helpless as Elona cried and screamed with terror into the telephone that she would do anything they asked.

 

We have never been so ashamed of society's indifference to the needs of prostituted women.

 

During the court process the evidence against her was presented while the principle Judge smirked and chuckled with one of his colleagues. Her support and aiding of other prostitutes was that she had helped other migrant women register with the local prefecture as required by law! The judge berated her for not revealing the true beneficiaries of the money sent out of France, but we knew that before the court had began she had been called by A****** and told to say all the money had gone to her extended family. "You have many, many cousins," mocked the principle Judge as Elona claimed that hundreds of thousands of francs had been sent to her family. Her family's home is very modest while A****** lives a luxury apartment, drives a couple of Mercedes' and owns a chic bar in Tirana. He has moved most of his prostitution business to another European country but still demands that Elona sends him three thousand francs every day.

 

Even in Court she was made to stand next to a functionary of A******'s who in the recesses would warn her to mind her answers. Later this man actually walked free for lack of evidence.

 

We watched with increasing disgust as this woman was persecuted and harassed by judicial pimpery. Exploiting her fear the principle Judge played with her and mocked her. She had no strength to fight yet another powerful man. His arrogance and conceit was palpable, his intent to do harm obvious, Elona physically shrank when he aggressively challenged her pitiful accounts.

 

The prosecutor then demanded that she be punished with a two-year sentence and banishment from France. I was very concerned that things were going badly for Ilona.

 

Finally her defence lawyer rose to make Elona's defence. It was a masterly presentation that forced the court to confront the realities of Elona's miserable life in France. The defence lawyer took the court through every circumstance and her account compelled the court to view Elona not as a perpetrator of exploitation but in fact a woman crushed by endless years of terror and abuse. After this presentation the Judges prepared to rise to consider their verdict.

 

BUT. there was to be a moment of unexpected drama. Suddenly the prosecutor rose and asked to address the judges before they left for their deliberations. Quickly and with considerable emotion he declared himself to be satisfied that Elona was innocent of any charge made against her and that he was ashamed that she had been charged with crimes that she had not committed and as such he expected her to be allowed to go free. Some of us almost cried with relief, tears came to our eyes.

 

After this incredible turn of events the court recessed.

 

The judges returned and then gave their verdicts against the other defendants, most received heavy sentences but A****** received no sentence in his absence because the police had made no charge against him.

 

Finally Elona rose to receive her verdict. We must remember that the prosecutor who had first asked that she be severely punished with two years imprisonment had renounced his demand and had called for Elona's release.

 

The principle Judge then announced a verdict of THREE YEARS INMPRISONMENT!!

 

Everyone in the court was astounded! Three years in prison for being a trafficked woman too scared to denounce your violent pimp. A year more than the prosecutor had originally demanded!

 

Elona Kodra is now beginning today a three year prison sentence that was the result of a politically motivated need for France to be seen dealing severely with foreign traffickers.

 

This is a betrayal of abused and trafficked women and is an obscene consequence of the simplistic idea that the criminal justice system will protect trafficked women. This is the consequence of tough laws on pimping arbitrarily applied against women at the whim or fancy of the police and judiciary.

 

All the ring leading abusers are free! but Elona Kodra will serve THREE YEARS in PRISON.

 

The prosecutor and the defence have decided not to appeal the sentence. This is because Lyon has the most reactionary appeals court in France and it has even been suggested that unless the younger lawyers and Elona accept this senior judicial and political decision the sentence might be raised! ****See new message for latest news on this****

 

Elona needs help and something can be done to help her.

 

If you or your organisation would like details of the "Free Elona Kodra" campaign gives one of our delegates your business card or send a message to Femmes de l'Est requesting details.

 

Our e-mail is femmesdelest@yahoo.com www.FreeElona.com

 

 

 

The shame of the French state in exploiting trafficked women

The shame of the French state in exploiting trafficked women.

 

The 8th November 2000 was a shameful day for the nation of France as in a pique of xenophobic and moral hysteria it used the body of a young prostitute as shamelessly as any pimp. Elona Kodra was “F***** by France” for being Albanian, a woman, and being too terrified to testify against a manic criminal exploiter, so allowing herself to be presented as a willing accomplice to his crimes.

 

Elona was used and abused, as France sought to punish migrant women for “letting themselves” be victimized by exploiters. After a moral panic inspired by a sensationalist media that caused alarm and fear regarding the prostitution of women from Eastern Europe, the Vice squad in Lyon went out and arrested several Albanian men whom they accused of the exploitation of migrant prostitutes. During this prodigious exercise, almost two years ago, they “missed” arresting the three main ringleaders of this group, who fled France, allegedly having been warned by their own “local protectors” of the Police investigation.

 

However Elona was widely known to be controlled by the leader of this group and so she was arrested and threatened with pimping charges if she did not testify against her exploiter. Too scared because of threats against her family in Albania she refused and so she was charged with pimping the other women controlled by A****** T***, she was also charged with assisting the prostitution of other women.

 

The charge of exploitation was principally that she had shown another women bought and controlled by A****** T*** where and how to work as a prostitute. However this is a typical strategy of exploiting men and only shows that she was required to behave like any other controlled woman with absolute obedience or suffer the consequences. It was also suggested that she had sent more money than she could have earned herself to Albania, so therefore she had to have had financial control over other prostitutes. In fact she worked non-stop whatever her health condition, whatever the weather.

 

A****** took Elona as a teenager to Italy where she was forced by repeated beatings to prostitute herself. Other Albanian prostitutes who witnessed her terrible beatings at that time support this account of severe and regular abuse, which continued after she arrived in France.

 

In France she was the first Albanian prostitute to arrive in Lyon and as such this was another reason that she was most probably singled out to be the only woman from all of the foreign women in prostitution to be charged with a pimping offence.

 

Since her arrest almost two years ago, Elona has been on police bail that compelled her to remain in Lyon. While other migrant women fled exploiters by running to other cities, Elona was held by police supervision in Lyon. In fact the French state held her down so A******’s reign of terror could continue. This begs the question whom was really assisting the abusive prostitution of migrant women in Lyon?

 

I have personally watched her reduced to terror as her little brother has been dragged to a mobile telephone in Albania by accomplices of A****** and who have then threatened to kill the boy if she did not obey A******. While A****** has lived in luxury she has worked every day of the week from four in the afternoon until three in the following morning, seven days a week. She lives in a cheap hotel room and eats in fast food bars. She even has to work when she is ill.

 

Recently when A****** tried to force her to control another women she refused, for two nights she fled her hotel room and stayed with friends. Every hour she was receiving telephone threats from a trio of A****** and two others, until finally someone called and described how her little brother was in the street near her home in Tirana, talking with friends, this man described the brother, his features, his clothes and then he simply said I am going to walk over to him and shoot him in the head if you do not agree to help us. I watched helpless as Elona cried and screamed with terror into the telephone that she would do anything they asked.

 

We have never been so ashamed of society’s indifference to the needs of prostituted women. 

 

During the court process the evidence against her was presented while the principle Judge smirked and chuckled with one of his colleagues. Her support and aiding of other prostitutes was that she had helped other migrant women register with the local prefecture as required by law! The judge berated her for not revealing the true beneficiaries of the money sent out of France, but we knew that before the court had began she had been called by A****** and told to say all the money had gone to her extended family. “You have many, many cousins,” mocked the principle Judge as Elona claimed that hundreds of thousands of francs had been sent to her family. Her family’s home is very modest while A****** lives a luxury apartment, drives a couple of Mercedes’ and owns a chic bar in Tirana. He has moved most of his prostitution business to another European country but still demands that Elona sends him three thousand francs every day.

 

Even in Court she was made to stand next to a functionary of A******’s who in the recesses would warn her to mind her answers. Later this man actually walked free for lack of evidence.

 

We watched with increasing disgust as this woman was persecuted and harassed by judicial pimpery. Exploiting her fear the principle Judge played with her and mocked her. She had no strength to fight yet another powerful man. His arrogance and conceit was palpable, his intent to do harm obvious, Elona physically shrank when he aggressively challenged her pitiful accounts.

 

The prosecutor then demanded that she be punished with a two-year sentence and banishment from France. I was very concerned that things were going badly for Ilona.

 

Finally her defence lawyer rose to make Elona’s defence. It was a masterly presentation that forced the court to confront the realities of Elona’s miserable life in France. The defence lawyer took the court through every circumstance and her account compelled the court to view Elona not as a perpetrator of exploitation but in fact a woman crushed by endless years of terror and abuse. After this presentation the Judges prepared to rise to consider their verdict.

 

BUT… there was to be a moment of unexpected drama. Suddenly the prosecutor rose and asked to address the judges before they left for their deliberations. Quickly and with considerable emotion he declared himself to be satisfied that Elona was innocent of any charge made against her and that he was ashamed that she had been charged with crimes that she had not committed and as such he expected her to be allowed to go free. Some of us almost cried with relief, tears came to our eyes.

 

After this incredible turn of events the court recessed.

 

The judges returned and then gave their verdicts against the other defendants, most received heavy sentences but A****** received no sentence in his absence because the police had made no charge against him.

 

Finally Elona rose to receive her verdict. We must remember that the prosecutor who had first asked that she be severely punished with two years imprisonment had renounced his demand and had called for Elona’s release.

 

The principle Judge then announced a verdict of THREE YEARS INMPRISONMENT!!

 

Everyone in the court was astounded! Three years in prison for being a trafficked woman too scared to denounce your violent pimp. A year more than the prosecutor had originally demanded!

 

Elona Kodra is now beginning today a three year prison sentence that was the result of a politically motivated need for France to be seen dealing severely with foreign traffickers.

 

This is a betrayal of abused and trafficked women and is an obscene consequence of the simplistic idea that the criminal justice system will protect trafficked women. This is the consequence of tough laws on pimping arbitrarily applied against women at the whim or fancy of the police and judiciary.

 

All the ring leading abusers are free! but Elona Kodra will serve THREE YEARS in PRISON.

 

The prosecutor and the defence have decided not to appeal the sentence. This is because Lyon has the most reactionary appeals court in France and it has even been suggested that unless the younger lawyers and Elona accept this senior judicial and political decision the sentence might be raised! ****See new message for latest news on this****

 

Elona needs help and something can be done to help her.

 

If you or your organisation would like details of the “Free Elona Kodra” campaign gives one of our delegates your business card or send a message to Femmes de l’Est requesting details.

 

Our e-mail is femmesdelest@yahoo.com                       www.FreeElona.com

 

 

Free Elona Kodra ! 


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