“Two Kyrgyz Women” (Part II)

I’m glad I had a chance to finish reading both stories about women from Kyrgyzstan who were part of a terrible mis-adventure of human trafficking.  They managed to escape their tormented lives where they were sent to “work” and told their stories to a very good writer. I wrote some of the quotes from the earlier part of the book in yesterday’s blog. I thought the author, Marinka Franulovic, did a nice job of portraying Kyrgyz customs of marriage, funerals, rituals before leaving home to another place, babies’ celebration etc. The traditions have been built into the villagers who have carried them down from generation to generation.  What these two people were NOT ready for is trusting someone to give them a better job and a promise of a better life but it turned out that they and many others had been duped.

The following is from p. 157 of “Two Kyrgyz Women” and I think the statistics speak for themselves.  Remember behind every number there are human souls who have encountered unspeakable tragedies.  Slavery is not dead, it is alive and well for those who make a profit and among those who seek to gain a fortune off of the desparate.  Often it seems that the Kyrgyz people are unwittingly deceived to believe they will get their dreams to come true if they work hard.

“According to IOM (Intl. Organization of Migration) research, an estimated 5,000 people are annually trafficked from Kyrgyzstan to third countries.  Each year, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked across international borders worldwide.  Out of this number approximately 80 percent are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors.”

p. 158. “Victims of human trafficking pay a horrible price.  Psychological and physical harm, including disease and stunted growth, often have permanent effects.  In many cases the exploitation of trafficking victims is progressive- a child trafficked into one form of labor may be further abused in another.  Another brutal reality of the modern-day slave trade is that its victims are frequently bought and sold many times over, often sold initially by family members, relatives or acquaintances.

Victims forced into sex slavery can be subdued with drugs and subjected to extreme violence…The causes of human trafficking are complex. Looking at human trafficking as a global market, the victims constitute the supply and abusive employers or sexual exploiters represent the demand.  The supply of victims is encouraged by many factors, including: poverty; the attraction of perceived higher standards of living elsewhere; lack of employment opportunities, organized crime; violence against women and children; discrimination against women; government corruption; political instability and armed conflict.

On the demand side, factors driving human trafficking include sex industry and the growing demand for exploitable labor.  Sex tourism and child pornography have become worldwide industries, facilitated by technologies such as the Internet, which vastly expand the choices available to “consumers” and permit instant and nearly undetectable transactions.  Trafficking is also driven by the demand for cheap, vulnerable and illegal labor.

IOM’s programs against trafficking target both the supply side and the demand side.”

That is the mission of IOM and to read this book packs a powerful punch about showing what these poor ladies went through.  May this never happen to anyone you know.  One last story I have to share.  A student of mine at the other university I taught at last year in Almaty told me about her friend from h.s. who was a very good dancer.  She was approached by a man who said he could get her to the U.S. to be in a dancing troupe.  She had beautiful, blonde hair and really thought that what she had been told was true.

No, she and 10 other girls were thrown into a basement once they got to the U.S. and had their passports taken away.  Somehow this Kazakhstani girl was able to call her uncle in Germany and he was able to get word out that his niece was in this terrible situation.  It ended well for her and another girl who walked away from this basement, but whatever happened to the 8 she left behind?  They are probably worn out prostitutes if not drugged and dead already.

I had a young female student in Ukraine who might have gotten messed up in something similar.  She was the brightest amongst her classmates as she had studied in Texas. She supposedly got “married” to a German guy but then she unexpectedly returned to Ukraine and would not talk about her “ordeal.”  Particularly true of Central Asian women who do not talk about such matters if it is anything to do with the sex trade.  They would be so full of shame that they would just typically bury it.  I’m glad these two Kyrgyz women were brave enough to get their story out there for the rest of the world to know the torment and suffering they and too many others are going through right now, even as you read this.

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