Human trafficking is a highly profitable business. Criminals pay from $300 to $1,000 for a human being and return the profit between $500 and $15,000. A person may cost up to $200,000 at times. They make slaves work as beggars, prostitutes, servants or just plain workers.
Victims of human trafficking do not like to recollect their infamous past, if they are lucky to stay alive. The reputation of a former slave is a like a lifetime brand, especially in small provincial towns.
A 32-year-old woman, who identified herself as Olga B., was lucky to return home after six years of slavery in Spain. Her story started as an exciting summer adventure.
“I wanted to see the world and let the world see me. I did not have much money for a decent holiday. One day I came across a friend of mine, Galina, who said that she had been working in Spain for several months. She said that she was paid well and did not provide any intimate services. She offered me to come and visit her employers in Spain. She assured me that they were very nice people and that I would not have to pay the rent. I did not have enough money for a plane ticket, but she agreed to lend me some. She also arranged a tourist visa for me very quickly,” Olga said.
Alberto Andreani, the chairman of the Prevention of Human Trafficking in the Russian Federation project, said that it was a typical mistake for victims to make.
“They trust their acquaintances too much. They even trust people they do not know well. As a rule, they do not even think to check their documents,” the specialist said.
Olga arrived in Spain at night. The room, which Galina’s friends showed her, was a nice cozy place. The people seemed very friendly and hospitable. When Galina asked Olga for her passport, the latter did not suspect anything.
The nightmare began early in the morning. Several strangers woke Olga up. The hospitable landlords and her only friend in Spain, Galina, were gone. The strangers told Olga that her friend had sold her for a large sum of money. The people said that she would be able to return to Russia only when she worked her debt out.
“They offered me to work out the money with consummation. That was not sex, but just communication, and so I agreed,” the woman said.
Olga was accommodated in a four-room apartment, where about 20 women lived. She had to do night work only. “It was not allowed to make phone calls. They always convoyed the girls when they needed to go out,” she said.
The woman’s debt was only growing. The women had to pay for everything: their flat, food, and the interest. Afterwards, the bar, where Olga was working, was redesigned into a brothel. Olga’s masters said that she would have to become a prostitute. Fortunately, Olga had made very good friends with one of her clients, who subsequently bought the blue-eyed Russian beauty out.
“It seemed to me that it was a smile of fortune in my life. The man promised to marry me. Afterwards, when we finally got married, I found out that he was a married man who was hiding from his maintenance payments. “I was pregnant at that time. When I unburdened my mind to him, he beat me up. Afterwards, he made me make an abortion in a private clinic,” Olga said.
Olga continued to suffer from domestic violence, but finally made up her mind to go to police. She was placed in a rehabilitation center and provided no other help.
“I called the Russian embassy but they told me to come to Madrid and said that it was my problem how I was going to get there,” she said.
The woman started to look for a job to be able to return to Russia. However, her husband found her and made her live with him again.
“Victims of slavery often develop a psychological dependence from their owners. They take their situation for granted and do not try to change anything,” a psychologist of the rehabilitation center of the International Organization for Migration said.
Olga was lucky to call her mother, who asked the migration service for help. The police visited Olga’s master soon afterwards. It turned out that Olga’s tourist visa expired four years ago, and the woman was deported from Spain to Russia.
“As far as I know, my Spanish husband was not called into criminal account at all. They just swept it all under the carpet,” the woman said.
Lisa S. is another victim of “exciting summer holidays.” Lisa is a serious woman, a flautist, who simply wanted to have a quiet vacation in Turkey. She booked a tour with her girl-friend.
When hotel owners found out that Lisa was a professional musician, they offered her to play with their band. The woman agreed. Afterwards, they offered her to stay for two more weeks free of charge and play the flute at night. Lisa decided to stay .
One day she suddenly had a severe stomachache after meals. The hotel owners called an ambulance. Doctors said that Lisa had appendicitis and that she would have to be operated on urgently.
“I felt very bad after the operation. When I finally returned back home to Russia, I discovered that the Turkish doctors had removed one of my kidneys. The Turkish hospital, where I was operated on, had no documents left about my stay there. The hotel owners forgot everything about me instantly as well,” the woman said.
Specialists say that it is practically impossible to prove anything. As a rule, there is an organized criminal group which knows how to use the difference in laws, the language problem and the negative public opinion. Any offers of illegal cherry pies abroad can be extremely dangerous.
It is an open secret that Turkey is a very popular tourist destination. As a rule, the Turks respect their guests. However, one has to be on alert all the time. There are too many chances to encounter maniacs, political extremists, religious fanatics or simply mentally unbalanced individuals. Try to avoid any discussions with them, do not argue with them, do not say any rude things to the person you are talking to. Try not to use the name Natasha, which all the Turks associate with a ‘whore.’