Sex trafficking is one of the most profitable illegal businesses in both Eastern and Western Europe.
In Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, where female unemployment may reach 68 per cent and a third of the workforce lives and works abroad, it is estimated that since 1989 between 200,000 and 400,000 women have been sold into prostitution elsewhere – perhaps 10 per cent of the female population.
The country is the main exporter of sex slaves for the continent.
The women and girls never receive money from the client or pimp.
They are not allowed to contact anybody.
They are isolated, threatened, tied up, or even force-fed drugs to control them.
Many speak of being raped, urinated on, badly beaten up.
Ninety per cent of sex-trafficked women contract sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis or AIDS.
And many suffer psychological trauma – advanced schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder.
There are countless cases of missing women.
A search in Moldovan villages revealed the emptiness of places where the women were formerly a natural presence.
There were families living in hope that one day they would see their mother, daughter, wife, sister again.
And children who didn’t remember how their mother looked.
Human trafficking rings operate with impunity in Moldova, where they are for the most part under government protection and where a number of local government officials are involved with the rings.
No government officials have ever been charged with human trafficking or prostitution offences in Moldova.