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Sex-slave trade flourishes in Kosovo

The seedy side of peacekeeping in a war-torn region NBC-s Kevin Tibbles reports there is a new battle in Kosovo; an illegal sex slave trade.

By Kevin Tibbles
NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia

 

From: Rick Rozoff
To: r_rozoff@yahoo.com 
Subject: [yugoslaviainfo] Crime, Slavery The Fruits Of NATO's First
Year Of Kosovo Occupation
Date: 10 июня 2000 г. 18:35

http://www.msnbc.com/news/416095.asp?cp1=1 

[Just ignore the good guy (us)/bad guy (them) dichotomy in what follows; an obligatory fixture in all official media reports.]

A year after NATO-s bombing campaign and occupation saved Kosovo-s Albanians from persecution and death,a new kind of human abuse has emerged: forced prostitution, organized by the Albanian mob. More than 1,000 women have been smuggled into the war-ravaged region to serve as sex slaves.

THE WOMEN in Kosovo-s sex business ? estimated by police to number more than 1,000 ? come from all over Eastern Europe, funneled into the region by well-organized crime gangs using regular trade routes.

The former Soviet states have become prime suppliers of women for the multimillion-dollar sex trade. Moldova, Ukraine and Russia, as well as Bulgaria and Romania, are the hunting grounds for men who deal in the seedy business of so-called white slavery. Many young women, seeking to escape the shackles of collapsed economies and high rates of unemployment, are easy targets for the sophisticated traffickers.

In Bulgaria, for example, women are offered better lives in Western countries working as nannies or waitresses. They respond to newspaper ads that carry a cellular telephone number as a contact. Once the women accept a job and put their future and passport in the hands of an ?employer, things go horribly different than they planned.

?We try to act professionally when we come here, but it is hard not to be emotional, said Jack Simmons, a lanky Texas detective on loan to the U.N. police force in Kosovo. ?This is slavery, and these are slaves. They are bought and sold at auctions. They-re treated like property.

FEAR AS A TOOL OF SUBMISSION

Melissa Colten, an American working for the International Office for Migration, a non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, said traffickers instill a deep fear in the women. Usually they are locked in a room for between three and five days. Maybe they will receive water. Everything is taken away from them. Usually they are beaten and usually they are raped repeatedly. In some instances they are kept awake so they lose all sense of reality and time, and it becomes very, very disconcerting for them.

The purpose of the brutal treatment is to break the women down emotionally so traffickers can control them. Once this ?training session is over, the women are ready for sale. Prices start at around $500 in their country of origin. Each time they-re smuggled across an international border, the price will increase. By the time a woman is trafficked into Kosovo, she could sell for as much as $2,500.

There are bolder ways of obtaining women for forced prostitution. Many have simply been kidnapped at gunpoint, outside nightclubs, off trains or on street corners. Once in the hands of the slave traders, they become ?the disappeared.

They-re paraded. The girls tell us they-re made to walk around in their underwear while the buyers from Kosovo examine them, and then they make their choices. So, it-s pretty much like a cattle auction, Simmons said.

Officials from Kosovo-s international police force told NBC News that Valeshta, a town in Macedonia near the border with Albania, is controlled by the Albanian mob and where many of the young women say they were sold. Recently, two Macedonian po