[Stop-traffic] News/Brazil: Sex slavery: One woman's story

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Brazil: Sex slavery: One woman's story
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Sat Nov 18 2000 - 11:32:27 EST

Tuesday, 12 December, 2000, 23:23 GMT
               Sex slavery: One
               woman's story

               Many women are lured into slavery from poor areas of
               Rio de Janeiro
               By Isabel Murray in Brazil

               According to the United Nations, 'trafficking in
               persons' is the third most profitable activity for
               organised crime - only illicit arms dealing and
               drug trafficking are more lucrative.

               To combat this type of slavery, the UN is
               holding a Convention against Transnational
               Organised Crime this week in Palermo, Italy.

               United Nations records show that Brazil is
               currently the largest exporter of women slaves
               in South America.

               The Brazilian
               Government has no
               official numbers, but
               the UN and the Helsinki
               International Federation
               of Human Rights say
               that 75,000 Brazilian
               women are being forced
               to work as prostitutes within the boundaries of
               the European Union.

               Most of these women come from the states of
               Goiás, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Those
               who leave are often young women who go
               abroad in search of a better life - like Simone
               Borges Felipe, who went to Bilbao in Spain
               when she was 25 years old.

               Attractive offer

               Simone's father, João José Felipe, lives in
               Goiânia, in the state of Goias. He remembers
               his daughter telling him she was going to work
               in Spain, where she had been promised a
               salary of $2,000 a month. This was a lot of
               money by the standards of her family.

               The offer had been made by two girls originally
               from the same city, who turned up once in a
               while with the offer of work abroad.

               But as soon as Simone arrived in Bilbao, she
               phoned home to say that the reality was very
               different to what she had imagined.

               "We are all kept here
               like prisoners. We work
               in a club, they have
               taken away our
               documents, we are
               forced to stand around
               in just a tiny thong
               bikini, and it's cold,"
               she told her father, Mr
               Felipe, overr the

               "We are forced to work
               as prostitutes if we
               want to eat. And 35 women sleep in the same

               Lonely death

               After almost three months of distraught phone
               calls, Simone told her parents that she was
               coming back to Brazil. But shortly before she
               was due to travel, they received a phone call
               from Spain to say that she had died from

               With the help of the Brazilian Federal Police
               and Interpol, Mr Felipe managed to bring his
               daughter's body back home. He says that all
               the autopsies carried out showed clearly that
               Simone had not had tuberculosis. He suspects
               that his daughter was killed in order to prevent
               her from telling others what she knew.

               The owners of the club where Simone worked
               in Bilbao were arrested, but released after
               paying bail.

               The ONU conference in Palermo will discuss the
               creation of international mechanisms to control
               the trafficking in human beings, so that stories
               like Simone's are not repeated.
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