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The BBC's Caroline Wyatt:
"Locked in a room behind barbed wire, she didn't speak the language and the money she earned was kept by a pimp".
 real 28k

Saturday, 19 May, 2001, 05:23 GMT 06:23 UK
Russia fights sex slavery
The Red Light district in Amsterdam
Unsuspecting young women are sold into a life of misery
A campaign has been launched in Russia to warn young women about the dangers of being lured into sex slavery.

Russian women's groups are spearheading a public awareness initiative which seeks to educate young people about the reality of apparently glamorous work opportunities abroad.

Women who believe they are leaving Russia for respectable and well-paid jobs in the West, are sold into brothels or sex clubs where they often have their passports and their earnings confiscated by pimps.

It is estimated that more than 50,000 Russian women fell into this trap last year.

Naive

Valentina Gorchakova, the head of the Angel coalition of 43 women's groups, which is leading the campaign, said that most young women, especially those from the provinces, were naive about the dangers of accepting overseas work.
Prostitutes in Moscow
Many of the women are kept in make-shift prisons

She blamed the legacy of the Soviet Union. "Because we had the Iron Curtain for a long time, it meant we knew very little about the reality of the Western world: about international laws, immigration regulations and employment abroad."

Russians have only recently learned the word "contract", Ms Gorchakova explained.

International tragedy

The web of modern-day slavery covers the world, according to reports by the UN and human rights groups, and profits from trafficking in women reach between $7bn and $12bn a year, according to UN estimates cited by Ms Gorchakova.

Many women get trapped into the trafficking and think that if they co-operate they will be able to escape, but in fact they just become more ensnared, explained Juliette Engel, founding director of the MiraMed Institute which is fighting the problem.

Our correspondent Caroline Wyatt says that while this initiative will not stop the trafficking of women, it will at least make young Russians think twice about accepting offers of work that seem too good to be true.

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See also:

08 Mar 01 | Europe
'Slave trade' thrives in Bosnia
17 Nov 00 | Europe
UN swoops on Kosovo sex trade
09 Feb 01 | Europe
EU tackles sex trade
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