When K.’s pimp took her for the first time to “work” in a brothel in Bremen, K. began crying and refused to cooperate, and he took her back to their hometown in Bavaria. However, after continued abuse paired with affection, he soon succeeded in prostituting K. in apartments and various legal brothels throughout Germany. During her time in prostitution, spanning over 10 years, K. rarely had days off, sometimes had 20-40 buyers a day, and lived inside the brothels and apartments. Her pimp took all of her money, and repeatedly raped and beat her inside the brothels. When K. was 20, her pimp pressured her to get breast implants. Though K.’s pimp had previously been convicted of pimping in 1970 and had a long criminal record for other crimes including fraud and bodily harm, he was able to become the manager of a legal brothel in 2001, and to get K. “employed” in various legal brothels throughout the country—in at least two of these brothels while she was still a minor. He also signed a contract on her behalf making her a manager of one of the brothels, during which time K. continued to be prostituted in the very same brothel, with her pimp taking all of her earnings.
Grace was educated until the 10th grade in Nigeria, after which she was sent to work to help support her family, who lived in poverty. She worked for three years at various jobs, during which time she was raped and gave birth to a son. Her father told her that as a woman, she was “predestined by God to save her family from poverty by going to Europe to earn money.” He introduced her to a woman whose sister lived in Germany. Grace was told that she would have to repay the travel costs by working for the woman’s sister, after which she could work as a babysitter or in a restaurant to send money back home. Grace didn’t have an understanding of the amount she would have to repay, because the amount was in German currency, but she decided to take the chance because she didn’t have better prospects for her life in her country and her family was pressuring her. As is typical in her community, she underwent a Juju (Voodoo) ritual where she swore never to betray the contact in Germany and that she would pay all the debts. Grace talks about how she believes the problem of sexual exploitation should be addressed, based on her experiences.
Masha was trafficked to Germany from Russia and enslaved in sex work when she was 24 years old. She was kept prisoner and her passport was withheld from her to prevent her from escaping, but was later arrested in a police raid, which gave her the opportunity to return to Russia. Masha recalls that the German police did not try to understand her situation but simply treated her as a criminal. Another narrative from Masha is available in the archive.
Masha was trafficked into Germany from Russia, where traffickers abduct an estimated 55,000 women each year. Corrupt police officers and border guards reportedly accept bribes to facilitate trafficking. She was kept prisoner and her passport was withheld from her to prevent her from escaping, but was later arrested in a police raid, which gave her the opportunity to return to Russia. Masha recalls that the German police did not try to understand her situation but simply treated her as a criminal. Another narrative from Masha is available in the archive.
Mariana was trafficked into Germany from Ukraine in 1997 at the age of 16. She had accepted the offer of a job: the push for women to leave Ukraine and other old Soviet areas is powerful. They account for up to 90 percent of the unemployed and are usually the first fired. Traffickers abduct an estimated 35,000 women from Ukraine each year. Almost 50 countries serve as destination points throughout Europe and eastward. Germany is one of the most popular destinations in Europe for women trafficked from Ukraine and Russia, though victims also come from Africa (mainly Nigeria) and Asia (mainly Thailand). In the aftermath of her enslavement, Mariana still felt trapped. She couldn’t return to her Ukrainian village because her neighbors believed she had been a “prostitute in Germany,” and pimps were looking for her. She moved to her uncle’s house, then to a friend’s house, seemingly on a perpetual journey from slavery to freedom.
Irina V. was trafficked into Germany from Russia, where traffickers abduct an estimated 55,000 women each year. She was taken along the so-called “Eastern Route” through Poland. This is a key overland corridor for trafficking women into the EU from Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and the Baltics. Her narrative grapples with the fact that her enslavers “continue to traffic women” and also outlines a more practical problem. Upon her escape, she “began a long, terrible process of multiple questionings and misunderstandings,” was placed in prison for three months, and only received assistance from an NGO.