From Russia without Love: The "Fourth Wave" of Global Human Trafficking

By Granville, Johanna | Demokratizatsiya, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

From Russia without Love: The "Fourth Wave" of Global Human Trafficking


Granville, Johanna, Demokratizatsiya


The roaring of the Boeing engine matched twenty-six-year-old Lena Nakhimovskaya's barely suppressed excitement. So many months of preparation compressed into this one moment/It just proved that if you worked hard enough, you could get whatever you wanted. As the wheels finally hit the runway of Berlin's Schonefeld airport, she heard a silken feminine voice speaking rapid German. The jet airliner came to a stop, and Lena gathered up her belongings: the dog-eared hardback Istoriya Berlina too thick to fit in her purse and a long "To Do" list. Its first item." "'Ask Sergei to pay for German lessons."

A few minutes later she walked beside Sergei as they entered the terminal. She had met him shortly after answering the ad for a job in Berlin as housekeeper and nanny. Friendly and outgoing when he coaxed her to sign the contract (verbovka), he had barely spoken a word during the whole journey from Samara. Strange.

A tall man approached them. He wore a green T-shirt with German words on it and sleeves too tight for biceps as thick as thighs. He and Sergei conversed in low tones for about twenty minutes.

Eager for action, she finally burst out, "Hi. Please allow me to introduce myself I am Lena Nakhimovskaya. Let's go tour the city now!"

The man looked at Sergei with a twinkle in his eye. Licking his upper lip, he ran his eyes slowly up and down her body. "First I'll take a tour of you," he said with a strong German accent.

Sergei finally spoke to her, twisting her arm. "I'll give the orders around here, devushka."

Thunder clapped overhead as rain drops began to patter against the windows. Lena jerked away to rummage in her purse. Her voice rose hysterically. "Where is my passport?" Both men just stared at her with pit): "You can't be serious...." her voice trailed off.

The above scenario, albeit fictional, is unfortunately typical. In 1997 alone, 175,000 young women from Russia, the former Soviet Union, and Eastern and Central Europe were actually tricked and "sold" as commodities in the sex markets of the developed countries in Europe and the Americas. (1) Every year, at least 1 million women and children are taken from their homes and sold into slavery. (2) The United Nations' International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that as many as 4 million people worldwide are smuggled across borders each year, resulting in illicit profits amounting to $7 billion annually. (3) In addition to women from the former communist bloc, tens of thousands of other women from countries such as the Philippines, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ghana, and Nigeria are trafficked abroad each year and forced into prostitution to pay off their debts for transportation and housing. (4) Given the extent and duration of the problem of global human trafficking and, more specifically, forced prostitution, astonishingly few people fully understand it. In Article 3 of the "Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons" that supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2000), human trafficking is defined as,

   the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of
   persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of
   coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or
   position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments
   or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over
   another person, for the purpose of exploitation. (5)

Forms of exploitation include: prostitution, forced labor or services, slavery, and servitude. Five recently published books inform readers of the causes and consequences of this global phenomenon, and of the recent attempts to curtail human trafficking. Torgovlya Liud'mi (American University's TraCCC), Migrant Trafficking and Human Smuggling in Europe (IOM), Disposable People (Bales), and Global Human Smuggling (Kyle and Koslowski) examine trafficking in diverse geographical regions, while War's Dirty Secret (Barstow) examines rape as a weapon of armed conflict and the United Nations' role in defining war crimes against women. …

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