About 2,000 women are taken abroad from the countries of the former USSR every year
The anxious girl did not know what to do. She found a good well-paid job in New York on the Internet. She planned to go to the States to work there in the summer. She would love to go to America, and she dreamed, of what places she could go to see there, but all of a sudden she received an email that said that she was not the only contender for the vacancy.
It was then said in the email that she was supposed to transfer $70 to a firm as a confirmation of her serious intentions. The student did not doubt that the fire was worth the candle, but she had to borrow the money from her parents. They insisted she make a helpline call to the Chelyabinsk-based organization Angel.
A spokeswoman for the organization contacted New York and found out that the firm indeed existed. It was very hard to find its owner, but when it was finally possible to contact him, the man was very surprised to hear about an alleged vacancy in his company: "We have no vacancies. Even if we had one, such a respectable organization as ours would not be at all interested in hiring a foreign citizen, especially a student."
One may only guess what the Russian student from the city of Chelyabinsk might have experienced in the States. There are a lot of websites that offer jobs abroad to credulous Russians.
Here is another, more tragic story. A woman asked for help because her daughter had left to a southern countries on the basis of a contract that guaranteed her a room in a hotel, a good job and good money for a period of three months. The woman said her daughter had called her from a foreign country and said that her documents and IDs had been taken away from her. The girl said that they were forcing her to work as a prostitute.
It took consulate offices, the OSCE and an international migration organization four months to find the girl. She was had been pressured, threatened, and beaten. She escaped from her torturers several times, but the local police brought her back anyway. One day she found herself in jail and was almost happy. However, local authorities made her leave the country. The girl arrived in Moscow in winter, wearing shorts and a top, without any money and documents.
The third story is the shortest one. They failed to break a girl in Spain: she refused to work in a brothel. Her parents' house was set on fire in a small town in the Chelyabinsk region.
"We are not slaves, slaves are not us." This revolutionary phrase sounds ridiculous nowadays. In the 21st century humanity still practices slavery: men and even children can become living goods, although women are in greatest demand. The sex business is one of the most profitable businesses in the world, after weapons and drug sales. About 2,000 women from the countries of the former USSR are taken abroad for sexual exploitation every year.
A lot of those women come from the city of Chelyabinsk. That is why the international coalition Angel has been working in Chelyabinsk since 1999. Larisa Vasilyeva, a spokeswoman for the organization, is the leader of the World Without Slavery project. Over a period of three years, this tiny woman has managed to help 16 victims of human trafficking, and she established contacts with people and organizations both in Russia and abroad to cooperate on the issue.
Several employees of the Angel coalition have returned from Italy, where they had attended seminars on the work with the victims of human trafficking. In the small Italian town of Martinsikuro, they met several beautiful young girls who were waiting for their documents to be retrieved. Every girl had a tragic story of her own. As soon as they have documents, girls start getting jobs at firms or enterprises.
The most shocking thing about the Italian anti-trafficking center was the fact that no one wanted to deport the girls from Italy. On the contrary, they were granted the Italian citizenship. According to the Italian on exploitation, if an individual manages to prove that he or she was subjected to exploitation (sexual, forced labor, and so on), the state is obliged to grant them various privileges on a free basis: food, clothing, accommodation, long-distance calls.
There is a national helpline for human trafficking victims in Italy. The line can be reached 24 hours a day. They do not only consult, but also offer real help to people: shelter, and instructions on how to get there. Employees of the Italian center often go to brothels to talk to managers to find out if someone needs help there.
Gennady Yanin, the chairman of the passport and visa service of the Chelyabinsk region, said: "I am rather concerned about orphans. About 800 children from the Chelyabinsk region were adopted by foreign citizens during the period 1999-2003. We can trace those children's lives for three years. No one knows what happens to them next. Students working abroad is another problem. Such activities must be organized by institutes where students study, not by private firms. Contacts must be established with foreign institutes, universities and state services."
Anatoly Belousov, the chief specialist of the employment department of the Chelyabinsk region: "Human trafficking comes from poverty and women's unemployment. Fifty-two percent of unemployed people are women. It takes them longer to get adapted to the labor market, to find a job."
Alexander Taradanov, assistant professor of the sociology department of the Chelyabinsk State University: "Our women are experiencing a lack of ten million men. We have been losing men in wars and in the criminal world. The demographic situation is getting worse everywhere in the world, regardless of the economic situation of a particular country."
The Americans came to realise that they would have to either leave the region or weaken their presence there. It is Russia that is filling the vacuum now