Alana was born in Moldova and trafficked into sex slavery in Russia, where men and women are also trafficked in from Central Asia and North Korea for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Moldova is a country origin for the trafficking of women and children into European sex slavery. Its economic conditions fuel this trafficking. In 2000, the country’s GDP was 40 percent of its level in 1990. Unemployment remains high, especially among women. People are forced to look outside of the country for work and pimps take advantage: some victims are kidnapped but more often they answer job advertisements promising work and then are forced into sex slavery. Most Moldovan trafficking victims are taken to the Balkan countries, though other destinations include Asia, Turkey, Western Europe and the Middle East.
I was born in Costesti. I have one older sister. My father died when I was young and we were always very poor. In November 2003 a gypsy man in the village offered for me and my sister to work in Russia. He told us he buys goods from Moldova and we can sell them in a market in Moscow. He paid 6000 lei [$470] for two passports and bought us train tickets. My mother was very sick at that time, so I prayed we could send her money for heating wood and medicine.
When we came to Moscow, the man’s wife picked us from the train station. She took us to a small house where there were four other Moldovan girls. She told us we would go to the market in the morning, and she locked us inside. The other girls asked if we knew why we were there. We saw clothes hanging on the wall for nuns. There was the name of a Church written on them, but I could not read it in Russian. The other girls told us we would dress like nuns and beg for money.
In the morning when the wife returned, my sister told her we would not do this kind of work. She told us it was better than selling goods and we would make more money. We worked like this for two weeks from eight in the morning until late at night, but we could not keep any money. After two weeks they moved us to another apartment with other girls. There were three gypsy men here who beat us badly and told us we must have sex with clients. I panicked and told them I would not do this work, but they raped me and said: “If you behave well, you can go back to Moldova in one year. If you do not, we will kill you and no one will look for you.” Every day many clients came for sex, and every day these men beat us. They punched our ribs and our back, but not our face. I cried when I watched them rape my sister. I wished they would kill me.
The men moved us to many apartments for two years. We could never escape because they always locked us inside. One day they moved us to the street and we tried to escape, but the men caught us and beat us badly. We tried a second time and we made it to the train station. The police asked for our passport, and we explained what happened. They took us to detention for one week and deported us to Moldova.
When we came back to Costesti, my mother thought we had been dead. One week later, the same gypsy man who first took us to Moscow came to our home at five in the morning. He had other gypsy men with him, and he said we must return to Moscow and pay off our debt. He tried to take us, but my sister and I ran. My mother could not run, so they raped her. We told the police the next day, but the gypsies were gone, and they never found the man who did this to us.
Narrative as told to Siddharth Kara, November 1, 2005, in Costesti, Moldova.