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Friday, 2 November, 2001, 11:55 GMT
UN cracks down on Bosnia prostitution
The UN has repatriated 380 women forced into prostitution
By Alix Kroeger in Belgrade

The United Nations mission in Bosnia-Hercegovina has closed down 15 bars where women were being forced into prostitution.

The bars in the northern district of Brcko were closed for violations of labour laws and taxation.

The closures are a new tactic in the UN's attempts to stem the flow of women trafficked into Bosnia from eastern Europe.

But a UN spokesman admitted it was only a short-term measure and many of the premises would reopen as soon as their papers were back in order.

No escape

Up to 120 women were working in the bars as prostitutes, of whom around a quarter were probably trafficked.

Many of the trafficked women do actually have work permits designating them as waitresses - a practice the UN said was difficult to justify when Bosnia had an unemployment rate of between 40% and 50%.

Most of the women come from Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.

They cannot speak the language and have no family connections in Bosnia, making it more difficult for them to escape.

The majority believe they are going to western Europe to work as waitresses or nannies.

Some get involved willingly, knowing they will be working as dancers or prostitutes. What they do not know is that they will be effectively kept prisoner and will not receive any of the money that they earn.

In the past two years the UN and the International Organisation for Migration have repatriated around 380 women trafficked into forced prostitution in Bosnia.

See also:

28 Apr 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Criminal gangs running the Balkans
03 Mar 01 | Europe
Vice bars raided in Bosnia
17 Nov 00 | Europe
UN swoops on Kosovo sex trade
30 Nov 00 | Europe
UN policemen disgraced in Bosnia
09 Feb 01 | Europe
EU tackles sex trade
27 Jan 00 | World
New weapon against child porn
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