The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day in 2016, an estimated 3.6 million men, women and chidlren were living in modern slavery in Europe and Central Asia (GSI 2018). People are subjected to exploitation in forced labour, debt bondage and forced sexual exploitation. Government response in Europe is particularly strong with a number of regional bodies holding them account and monitoring responses, and while countries in Central Asia have taken steps to tack modern slavery, more needs to be done.
Tanya was trafficked from Ukraine after being offered a job in another country. Her brother was sick and in need of an operation and her family was poor. She was sold and forced into prostitution.
Before this, I hadn’t come across much evil in my life. I couldn’t believe places like that actually exist. I thought I’d find at least one kind person, or that one of the pimps…would set me free.
She knew my family circumstances and said…I’d have a lot to lose if I passed this up. I was going to take a night bus. My daughter was asleep. I went to kiss her goodbye. She woke up and started begging me, “Mummy, don’t of away.” I told her, “I won’t be long. I’ll come home very soon.” She put her hand under her pillow and gave me her little wooden cross. She put it in my hand and said, “Mummy, keep it with you.” I said, “Why? It’s yours.” “No, you keep it. It’s my gift to you.”
I told them that I refused to do it. They said, “What do you mean, you refuse? That woman sold you for $5000. You belong to us.” They didn’t see us as human beings but just as whores, as flesh that they could use. That’s all.
They took me to a villa. It was a two-story house. It had bars on all the doors and windows. They locked me in.
We worked for as long as we had clients. 24 hours a day. If we refused to service a client, they would beat us up.
He said he paid a lot of money for me and I had to work off this money. I said, “If I work off your money would you let me go home?” He agreed.
He said I’d be paid $500 a month. But the girls told me he never pays $500 a month. He always finds reasons to fine you. So, if a client asks you to do something and you refuse he’d fine you for a month or two and you’d end up working for nothing.
I said I wanted to go back home to my child. The other girls told me, “We’ve got children too. You have to do it. There’s nothing you can do about it.” That little cross…I always had it in my hand. I prayed and asked God to somehow get me back home.
I have no other choice. We borrowed so much money because we didn’t want to lose him. And we’ve been told to pay it back. If we don’t, we’ll be in trouble…especially our children. Anything could happen to them when we’re not around. So I have to go for the money. Please understand that I just want to save my brother.
Narrative as told to Documentary Makers for Real Stories. All credit given.
Original narrative can be found here