BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: Correspondent  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Correspondent Friday, 14 June, 2002, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
'Boys will be boys'
Girls are trafficked into the brothels of Sarajevo
It has become a tragic inevitability that whenever international peacekeepers are sent to bring law and order to a war torn country, a vast and exploitative sex industry, allegedly follows close behind.

Correspondent looks at Bosnia and Kosovo where girls as young as 15 have been duped into working in brothels and forced to have sex with UN personnel. We find that the boys will be boys culture prevails and that international soldiers and police officers at the highest level are turning a blind eye. It is a shameful and disturbing tale. Sue Lloyd-Roberts reports.

Correspondent website: Exclusive interviews:

Sold into sex slavery

Like thousands of young women in the impoverished countries of the Eastern bloc Monica, a 19-year-old Romanian, leapt at the chance when her boyfriend said he had arranged a job as a waitress for her in Italy.

The Vila Bar
The Vila Bar - a place of both hope and disgust
She would work for a year and put the money towards their wedding. She was taken to the Vila Bar in Bosnia.

Monica was led upstairs to a bedroom where Elena, another Romanian girl, explained the routine.

Her shift lasted from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. during which she would have to dance and service up to eight clients a night.

Monica reacted with disgust and outrage at the betrayal.

Her boyfriend had sold her for 3000 Deutsch Marks, around 1000.

She asked about the clients. Elena said: "There are many foreigners, soldiers and policemen". Monica saw a glimmer of hope.

A graduate of the Bucharest Language Institute, she spoke French and English.

She would simply tell one of the foreigners that there had been a mistake and ask for help.

Service personnel
The men know they are running a risk
"Most of them were Americans and German", Monica said. "Of course, I appealed to them for help, the soldiers and the policemen. But all of them said that they shouldn't be there and they would get into trouble if they helped."

Monica tells how in the end she befriended a local taxi driver who agreed to drive her to the border in return, of course, for sex.

International peacekeeping customers

In her testimony to the police, Monica identified four officers from the International Police Task Force (IPTF) and four Nato soldiers among her customers.

There are hundreds of premises selling sex in Bosnia, employing on average ten girls each.

If Monica's foreign clientele of eight is an average for the region, a lot of "peacekeepers" must be using such services.
Richard Monk
Monk: "These are embarrassing and damaging matters"

Richard Monk, is a respected British policeman and former Deputy Commissioner of the Devon and Cornwall Police. He was head of the IPTF in Bosnia for two years from 1998.

He says "I knew of one case where a 14 year old girl was actually living with an international police officer. I had to set up an internal affairs branch to manage investigations against my own police officers. There was nothing more embarrassing and damaging to the work that we were trying to do."

The Head of U.N. Mission in Sarajevo, Jacques Paul Klein, says the situation is now under control.

He says: "We have a zero tolerance policy here. Any officer, anywhere using the service of a prostitute, will be fired immediately and sent home."

How many has he sent home for sexual misconduct since he arrived in 1999? He is not sure. He thinks about fifteen.

Unacceptable behaviour

Is it simply a case of "boys will be boys" and is it hopeless to expect thousands of men posted away from home not to take advantage of the perks on offer?

Kosovo street
Poverty leads to desperate measures on the streets

Richard Monk has no sympathy, "I cannot see how you can possibly go into a country representing an international organisation like the United Nations or Nato and behave in this way."

Monk suggests that all international police officers and soldiers should be told that it is "totally unacceptable for you to consort with all prostitutes, as you may not know the difference between prostitutes and trafficked girls. So, quite simply, this is an offence and you will be court-martialled if you're caught."

But while those in charge debate about what should be done, there may be thousands of young women, like Monica, still being held as sex slaves in Bosnia.

Boys will be boys: Sunday 16 June 2002 on BBC Two at 1915 BST

Reporter: Sue Lloyd-Roberts
Producer: Lode Desmet
Deputy Editor: Farah Durrani
Editor: Karen O'Connor

See also:

24 May 02 | Country profiles
06 Apr 02 | Europe
22 Mar 02 | Europe
Links to more Correspondent stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Correspondent stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |