Sex-Trafficking is a Billion
Centre for Research on Globalisation | Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation
There are important vested financial interests behind the multibillion dollar trafficking of women via Southeast Europe. The issue is who is behind it? Are the so-called "transnational crime syndicates" involved in the prostitution racket protected at a political level?
There is evidence that employees of Dyncorp, a military services company on contract with UN peace-keeping in the Balkans have links to the trade. A former employ of Dyncorp, a US based mercenary outfit sued his former employer in a Texas Court in 2001. The suit alleges that DynCorp "engaged in racketeering activities in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
The same company has been sued in Britain by an American policewoman recruited by Dyncorp for a UN police position "aimed at cracking down on sexual abuse and forced prostitution in Bosnia". In both the US (Texas) and British lawsuits, the DynCorp employees were fired after collecting evidence of that company employees --including members of the UN police force in Bosnia-- were "taking part in the trafficking of young women from eastern Europe as sex slaves."
The International Organisation on Migration (IOM) has documented the extensive trafficking of women from Eastern Europe trade into prostitution in Kosovo. And in Kosovo DynCorp is also responsible for managing a significant part of the UN police force operations on contract to the US government. Employed by Dyncorp are 450 American police officers detached to serve in Bosnia under the United Nations. What has DynCorp done to protect women and young girls forced into prostitution by criminal syndicates which are also known to have links to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Moreover, amply documented the KLA --which has links to Albanian crime syndicates-- is known to protect the trafficking of women from the Balkans into several EU countries including Italy and Britain. Both NATO and the UN "peace keeping" mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) not only uphold the KLA, the latter which was renamed the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) is now part of the UN peace keeping, financed by the UN and US military aid.
For further details see:
British firm accused in UN 'sex scandal': International police in Bosnia face prostitution claims,
Employee fired by an American defense contractor in Bosnia because he blew the whistle on supervisors and co-workers who engaged in buying and selling underage girls as domestic help and sex slaves.
Michel Chossudovsky (CRG), 26 July 2002
UN human rights chief Mary Robinson said Monday that EU states shared part of the responsibility for the trafficking of thousands of women via Southeastern Europe, while urging EU governments to treat trafficked women and sex workers as victims of human rights abuse and not as criminals. “There is a tendency to consider trafficking as illegal immigration and penalize the women involved. There is a lack of understanding of the human rights dimension,” Robinson told reporters in Geneva.
The UN human rights chief was in Switzerland presenting a report released last month that found that 120,000 women and girls are being trafficked to the European Union every year, mainly through the Balkans. The countries of destination “tend to get off lightly on the matter of trafficking because it has been a sort of subterranean, invisible, criminal-dominated, terrible subjugation of human persons to a form of modern slavery,” she said.
The report, commissioned by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN human rights office, examined human trafficking in eight Balkan countries, including Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Yugoslavia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and Romania.
“These are the countries of origin, transit and destination for the trafficking of women and girls for the purpose of sexual exploitation,” the report states. “Children are also trafficked from Albania into Greece and Italy for the purpose of forced labor.”
According to the report, 90 percent of foreign migrant sex workers in Balkan countries are the victims of trafficking. However, not more than 35 percent are recognized as such and only a fraction (7 percent) of them receive long-term assistance and support. “Every year, tens or even hundreds of thousands of people — most of them women and children from less privileged countries — are exploited, sold, tricked and forced into situations of exploitation from which — very often — there is no escape,” Helga Konrad, chair of the Stability Pact Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings, wrote in the report.
“These people are abused as commodities by a transnational criminal industry, which has already generated billions of dollars for criminal organizations and groups, which operate practically with impunity.” The report notes that human trafficking has become the third biggest criminal enterprise worldwide, after drug trafficking and trafficking in weapons. According to the authors of the report, much of this is due to the changes in Europe since 1989 and the opening up of borders which, while giving many people greater freedom and the prospects of peaceful lives and security, also allowed for the development of cross-border and transnational criminal organizations.
In the Balkans, the ongoing conflicts of the past two decades have left much of the region in ruins, with crippled economies and record high unemployment and poverty. Now, in postwar and post-conflict areas, the lack of jobs makes especially the female population very vulnerable, with young women trying to find jobs abroad and often becoming the victims of traffickers.
Trafficking in numbers
The report notes that access to reliable statistics on the number of trafficked persons is not possible, as governments, international agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) provide different data, which often does not correlate. “For example, according to US State Department estimates, at least 700,000 persons, especially women and children, are trafficked each year across international borders. Though some observers estimate that the number may be significantly higher,” the report underlines.
At the same time, the Swedish-based NGO Kvinna Till Kvinna reports that an “estimated 500,000 women from around the world are trafficked each year into Western Europe alone. A large portion of these come from the countries of the former Soviet Union.”
The report, however, has adopted the figures that are being reported by one Geneva-based migration group, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a group considered to be an authority for its work in the Balkans and elsewhere. “The International Organization for Migration states that in 1997 an estimated 175,000 women and girls were trafficked from Central and Eastern Europe and the newly independent states,” the report notes.
Recent IOM figures show that “120,000 women and children are being trafficked into the European Union each year, mostly through the Balkans,” and that “10,000 women, mostly from Moldova, Romania and Ukraine, are working in the (Bosnia-Herzegovina) sex trade.” On June 7, the IOM released its Counter-Trafficking Report on the trafficking of women in Kosovo as sex slaves, which established a detailed socioeconomic profile of victims.
The report, which was based on the testimonies of 303 women and minors assisted by the IOM in the Yugoslav province from February, found that most of the victims are young single women who have little education and are the victims of physical abuse by their parents.
In reference to the victims’ countries of origin, the report notes that 52 percent of the women assisted by the IOM came from Moldova, 23 percent from Romania, 13 percent from Ukraine, 5 percent from Bulgaria, 3 percent from Kosovo, 3 percent from Albania and 1 percent from Russia.
In terms of their age, the IOM report reveals that the average age of the women was 25, while 38 of the 303 victims were minors. Moreover, some of the victims had very little education though a few were university graduates. More specifically, slightly more than 50 percent of the victims had a primary school education, 16 percent had completed high school and only 2 percent had been to university.
The majority (65 percent) of the victims were single when they were lured into trafficking, but almost 38 percent now have children that they are raising on their own. The IOM report also found that almost 25 percent of the victims had experienced physical abuse and 12.5 percent, rape within their family.
In the “Trafficking in Persons” report released last month by the US State Department, the US government charged that the governments of Greece, Turkey and Bosnia-Herzegovina have failed to meet the “minimum standards” for the elimination of trafficking in Southeastern Europe.
The report listed these three countries in a category described by the State Department as governments that “do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance.” The State Department describes Greece as primarily a destination country and, to a lesser extent, a transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The majority of trafficked persons who wind up in Greece come from Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Albania, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and Romania. A number of women also come from the North African nations of Tunisia and Algeria, as well as from Thailand and the Philippines in Asia.
Despite Greece’s poor record in combating human trafficking across its borders, the State Department acknowledges that reforms are being implemented in terms of legislation and law enforcement.
“The government is now taking steps toward combating trafficking, and the minister of public order (Michalis Chrysochoidis) described it as a first priority for the Greek police,” the report noted, adding that the minister has instructed all police stations to enforce existing legislation.
Copyright © Kathimerini, Athens, 2002. For fair use only
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