FRONTLINE/WORLD . flashPOINT . Moldova: the price of sex . PBS

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This is outrageous! It is a shame! We have lost track of who we really are and who we were meant to be. We don't love one another anymore, but instead we just abuse others. This is what the trafficking of women is: ABUSE -- abuse of our mothers, sisters, cousins, daughters, nieces. Shame on those men who do such things!

Arie Vandenberg
Cincinnati, Ohio

I hate to say it, but this makes me ashamed to be a man. This kind of behavior shows just how base and vile some humans can be towards the most vulnerable. What do you get when you combine vulnerable women, male sex drive, apathy and profiteering? The worst that humankind can offer. This must be stopped!

Buzau, Romania

Romania is a wonderful country. This was the first thing that came to my mind when I thought of writing a comment meant to be read by people that have never seen my country nor interacted in any way with it or its people. It's a country just like any other, just like yours. We have all kinds of people: good apples and bad apples and some in between. We are not a poor country. Actually if you consider the country's size, population, history, even crime and other data we are doing pretty well in fact (you can search topics on the web).

But there is a real problem here with the trafficing of unwilling young women. All over the country, not just in Moldova. I'm not talking here about women who choose to do this, but about those who are trapped, simply fooled into becoming prostitutes. Again, this is not only in Moldova. There isn't a single big city in which you could say there aren't at least a few women who shared this story, more or less. Not all are country girls, not all are poor, not all are/were problem-kids: many go to good schools (and trust me: school here isn't as easy as I've heard/read/seen that it is in other countries-though it's becoming-we are asked to know/learn a lot more things), schools with good teachers, they have good grades, "normal" lifes, nice enough parents, friends. They're smart, nice, good and goodlooking young women.

So how does this happen?

Well, it's kind of a fashion here for poor, but skilled people but also for many, many skilled middle income people, who don't earn here as much as they would by working in other countries to leave -- to go and work somewhere else, somewhere where they are better paid. I'm saying that there is a "fashion" because I'm not talking here about people who choose to live/work in other countries and become residents or even citizens of those countries. I talk about people (absolutely all ages, all genders, all kinds of characters and professions) who go in foreign countries only to work so that they can return home with different sums of money which they each one want to use in their different ways.

And this is probably one important aspect of why this kind of traffic is such a big problem here. This is why it's so easy to convince women to go. This is why it's so hard to find out what really happened to your friend, neighbor, acquaintance while she was gone. This is why being a pimp is such a prosperous job (if I can say that it's a job!).

But this is not only our problem. Almost every one of those Romanian pimps was "schooled" by a foreigner. Almost each and every one. And they all have contacts, other pimps or people who facilitate prostitution, in those countries in which they take the girls.

Take this for an example: a few months ago I visited for a few days a big city in a very rich country with a high grade of education. That city has a town-square, which isn't even very large. At night that town-square is (I asked!) the most populated place in the city. It is also the place through which people who get out in the evening or at night walk or pass in order to get to the restaurants, clubs etc. It is, again, also a very well known, important historic place and a big tourist destination-all year round. Anyway, as I passed one evevning through that square, at dusk, it was full of Romanian gypsies (no offence, for there are other honest ones)! They were all were pimps! As simple as that! They stood there all night and evening, in groups of 2 to 6 asking those who walked by if they wanted girls. The market was full of them.

How do I know that? Well, as I passed many of them started talking to me in Romanian (my own language in the place I expected to hear it the least!). I was shocked! I asked the taxi driver about this and he knew: the town was full of Romanian girls and their pimps! Everybody knew (young and old). Apparently I was the only one who was surprised. As the taxi driver put it gently: "Romanian and Russian girls "walk in the park"! ". And if they knew, everybody in the city I mean, it's impossible that the local police would not. But that's that! Nobody does anything at either end of this problem.

And now I'm gonna tell you a little bit about our end of the problem.

It's very hard to stop women from accepting to leave with strangers (many times even people they think they know very well) for jobs in other countries. Efforts are being made. But it's such a big problem, coming from all kinds of social groups that it's very hard to make a difference no matter what is being done. Those women who accept that they all know all the risks, but they also know so many people, including other women, who have done exactly the same thing and are OK, nothing happened to them, they got what they wanted. It's a risk. A risk that they calculate, that they try to minimize, but ultimately that they all assume, just hoping for the best. They are not to blame . They probably had no other choice of leaving for a job in a better paying country, otherwise I'm pretty sure that they would had chosen differently. Because they know the risks. This (the traffic of women for prostitution) it's more than an urban legend here: it's a well-known reality.

There would be so many other things to be said, but it's late now here so... I have to end here. I'll try to write you more in the next few days, but it's not a promise, `cause I don't know if and when I'll have the time.

In the end there is only one more thing I want to say to you all: Thank you! Thanks for caring enough to make this video. Thanks for reading this. Thanks for caring. In the end even this might matter enough to make a difference. Hopefully!

Caracal, Romania
I live in Romania.We are near Moldova and I have to say that this is a very, very good material for stopping Sex trafficking. It could happen to me, to you, to you're sister, you're best friend. The other day I saw on TV a mother with 2 kids who was working in Italy as a prostitute to feed her kids. I blame the system for that. If there were more jobs more and institutions that could offer help for the poor people and more security I think this would not happen or it would happen less. Until then I hope women will learn how to protect themselves in a better way and they will stop believing in a stranger's promise.

Ched Bayani
Madison, Wisconsin

First of all, thank you for filming and showing this video. I have seen movies, read news letters and newspapers about sex trafficking activities of very young girls as young as 13 years old to their early twenties. These girls come from Mexico, Asia, Australia, India, Eastern Europe and Africa. What do we do to put a stop on this inhumane practice? This forum is one of the numerous ways to make this known to as many people as we could reach. To all women out there, dont you think we should organize as a group to be reckoned with to help these women?

This story brought back a painful Memories. I was that young girl's shoes not long ago.I was prostitute my self in Dubai for five long years. I had clients of all walks of life but most of them were Europeans and Americans.

Carl Batts
New York City, NY

Prostitution will persist, but to see these crimes against humanity going on unchecked in these very poor countries is horrible. With the war in Iraq and the emphasis on terrorists and oil and such, I feel this subject will be a bit on the back burner internationally. The real horrible thing about this is that Moldova is just one of many countries involved in this horrific practice. But it is great to see stories like this to keep people informed.

Men are disgusting. This stuff is happening in our towns and villages, in our homes, right under our eyes, the business men, the politicians, teachers, vicars..... Why are we so disgusting? Why do we no longer have respect for human life? For each other? Why do we exploit those weaker than us? Why are we so cruel? What has happened to our society? We MUST educate people or things will never change.

Frank Lorenz
New York, NY

Thank you for another great installment of this series of work from these very talented photographers!

New Haven, CT

People from Eastern Europe are vulnerable. They want to earn a living wage and others promise them higher wages abroad. We had family members contacted by "friends" and we told them to be careful!! No one thinks they will be the next victim.Everyone must help to avoid exploitation of those from E. Europe.

Johannesburg, South Africa
Sex trafficking of women and children around the world is appalling. Something needs to be done to stop it. It looks like the world is not interested to fight sex trafficking of women and children. The global community had failed women and children. I am even ashamed of myself. Does the world understand the pain, torture, problems, hardships and challenges that women and children go through? It looks like we don't. We have to fight sex trade of women and children. We have to do it now and we must stop procrastinate.

Scott Kang
Edinet, Moldova

Being a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Moldova, I see this dilemma in full effect every day. People here work abroad because of the little opportunities that they have in-country and are sadly taken advantage of. The story that Olesea has told us is just one of many stories that I have heard during my stay here and isn't the last. The human trafficking problem is very real and is the third largest illegal industry (behind drugs and the arms trade) in the world, but sadly, has not gotten as much attention. Thank you, Mimi, for presenting Olesea's story to us. You have helped us take another step in the right direction to solve this global problem.

Toronto, Onttario
Very powerful and evocative photographs. A gripping interview. The global trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation is nothing short of a modern day slave trade. It is a monumental human rights tragedy that demands action. Mimi has put a face on this global human tragedy ... one that evokes raw emotion.

These women and girls have been raped of their dignity. It's time for world leaders to wake up and take action to Stop the Traffic!

Rachel Kay
West Bloomfield, MI

I have to admit, the United States is definately more respectful of women's rights than Moldolva. However, throughout this country and much of the world, sexism still persists, but it's more subtle. For example, white women [in the USA] earn seventy cents on the dollar when they preform the same jobs as men. For minorities, it's even less. Outlets such as MTV propogate male chauvinist attitudes, just watch the latest rap music video as evidence. Why do women, such as Britney Spears, have so much success when they portray women as exclusively sex symbols, and nothing more? The media tricks teenage girls into thinking that they will find love through sex, when they are really caving in to male chauvinist desires. If some guy isn't some sex-obsessed freak, as advocated by the media, then his peers assume he is a wimp or "gay". This problem is a consequence of the diminishing strength of our families, who are too obssessed with their careers to notice what matters.

Shahid Qureshi
Jeddah, KSA

First of all I condem strongly the prostitution, it is painful of our society, but if really we see the matter honestly, first of all men are responsible for this. Now the women is also equally responsible for this, if she never kept herself the limits of modesty. In this way a woman can become the mohter of an unwanted child and the man escapes away. That is the beginning of her becoming a prostitute. I warn women all over the world to be careful, be modest, be honest with yourself. Don't run after the men, they misuse you, don't go with any one for a sexual relationship with out a marriage,

The message of Islam for you is oh woman:

Be a mother, the paradise is your children,

Be a sister, and have the respect for you brothers,

Be a daughter, you a mercy of God ( ALLah ) for your father.

Be a wife, you are honour of your husband.

Be a modest woman, you are the beauty of whole world.

Don't be a prostiture, it is an insult to humanity.

dubai, uae

Very touching....and GREAT!

Victor Lutenco
Chisinau, Republic of Moldova

Dear Mimi, friends on this forum,
The video is indeed very good. At International Organization for Migration in Moldova we've seen and participated in the assistance of more then 2000 of such persons. These are different but all tragic life stories. It is good to show this and to raise awareness, but it is also very important to give hopes, prove that there are ways to help, people to assist, believe and support. We are working now on such a movie.
Should you be interested in finding out more on trafficking and counter-trafficking in Moldova please see this article in New Yorker (May 5th, 2008):

Miguel Campos
Mexico,City., Mexico.

This is actually the hardest situation around the world, pretty hard to believe this still happens anywhere, poor girls who have been laying for their own "boyfriends" or some friends telling them they will have a better life with luxury and lot of fun. Unfortunately real life is pretty hard and some of them will never see again their parents, friends or children. Humanity must stop this abuse by people from !st world countries who pay to have sex with girls from poor countries.

I am from Moldova. This is a verry sad story. This is the worst thing that could happen to this girl. Unfortunately, there are a lot of them, and we don't know about all the others, we just hear from a few of them. In our days we have to be afraid of everything. You never know what is going to happen and who is your true friend. Our goverment should do something about this. The young people are supposed to be the future here in Moldova.

ahmed mourad
algeria, algeria

I am against all this sex trafficking of women and children because I am a Muslim and our religion, Islam, is against this . I am with you my friends all across the globe who suffer from this problem. Be patient and god will be with you.

The images were so powerful and with the story being told, I feel so sad that sex trafficking is far from being stopped. It is a terrible reality that I can only pray that it stops.

portland, OR

In response to some of the posts here: I'm sick and tired of other women simply saying that "Women must band together and stop this". No! EVERYBODY needs to band together and stop this. Everyone, men and women, because it effects all of us! Until we acknowledge that, this movement will not gain the momentum it deserves. We're shooting ourselves in the foot if we present this as only a woman's problem. We need to get every decent human being we know involved, including fathers, brothers, husbands, and friends. This needs to be viewed as a human problem, if not we marginalize ourselves. (I shouldn't have to point out how marginalization contributes to dehumanization.) Think about it.

To (anonymous) who said "Men are disgusting".
I suppose you missed the initial sentences of this report:

"She was sold by a woman from her town..."

Stop your sexist rhetoric.

Nadeem Shahzad
Ali Pur, pakistan

It is not a good thing to sell the woman or to buy a woman. Islam is against that.

Brattleboro, Vermont
Thank you Frontline World for this very sad but moving documentary. The problem at hand is not one of social justice; it's one of behavior change, quite possibly the hardest thing to alter in the world. The only solution to this problem in my opinion is for these women to hear the stories of other women who have become victims of the sex trade industry, and then to be able to have opportunities towards obtaining jobs that pay as much or more than what these sex slaves are making. I suppose it's a two-part solution. I think there will always be shallow, servants of the devil out there requesting these types of services.

Vanessa Rae
Fairview, Texas

It bothers me in immense proportions to learn that sex trafficking still occurs around the world. I had heard rumors and whatnot about it, but never actually had true facts to back up stories I believed to be exaggerated. It absolutely disgusts me to learn that the "pimps" who own these girls still prostitute them even if they are pregnant, and for some, carry out the complicated abortion procedure as an amateur on these innocent women. This woman feared not only the abuse in her own life, but that of her unborn child in the rough sex she was forced to perform. It is also extremely saddening to hear that these women never even think to tell others their story, or seek prosecution for what has happened to them. This sex slave business needs to be put to an end immediately and I think we ourselves, should provide support for these suffering woman who cannot yet seek help or any sort of treatment for physical injuries or psychological.

Ashlee Lang
Allen, TX

I am blown away by this video. Not only do I love the fact that it's documented in photographs instead of video, I love the brutal honesty of it all. It's good to see something out there that isn't concerning the latest trends or celebrities starving themselves. I really like what PBS is doing by having these videos and I really like this video in particular because of the emphasis on how wrong and degrading it is for a woman to be trafficked. This video is haunting and well presented.

Dallas, Texas

I had no idea that sex trafficking around the world was so prevalent or that it could take a woman's life. The women in these countries are many times told lies about opportunities that will never become realities. This video made me sick to my stomach to see these women being so mistreated. Some men around the world use women to do whatever they please. Learning that these women begin their journey thinking they will eventually have a better life is unbearable to me. Exposing this problem, I expect that something will be done to help prevent these women from being injured and selling their bodies to live the only way they know how. Women in America have fought hard for the rights that we now enjoy. I am saddened to know that most of the women in these countries will never have the opportunity to benefit from similar rights.

So what about these men? Who are these millions of men in the world who see women as less than human, as things they can use and throw away, as meaningless even though each and every one of them has a woman to thank for their very lives? How do the "clients" justify their abuse of women to themselves? What is missing in their brains and hearts that cut off their empathy for women? Why do women all over the world tolerate men's disgusting and abhorrent behavior? When are we finally going to demand justice, harsh punishment for the pimps and an END to sex trafficking?
I would ask all the women that are reading these comments to think about how you can help other women, since poor women everywhere are vulnerable. And now - thanks to unchecked internet child porn - so are our children.

This movie was made particularly strong to me because many of the girls that are being prostitutes are not much older than I am, and a lot likely my age. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have forced sex with so many people. It would be traumatizing, especially if you were forced into this business. I have no desire to even attempt to begin to image what it would be like to be raped repeatedly-and have no one do anything about it. The men feel like they're entitled to have sex with the girl, because they paid.

Although the girls that this movie followed were forced into this `work', I wonder if any chose it willingly and how many did? I think that it's a horrible industry that should be stopped as soon as possible. Pregnancies come from this business, and the children that would be born are usually aborted. Since I am very passionate about abortion, it struck an even stronger chord. People should not be forced into anything like this, and I think that it's immoral, and an industry like this should not exist.

Landon A
Allen, TX

This was an incredibly powerful video that dealt with a serious topic. The video did a great job of portraying the difficult and secret life of these women who, in hopes of a better future, prostitute themselves in order to make money. Many were promised other jobs, an example being waitressing, it's just incredible how something this huge can go unnoticed by society, or is it just that it's noticed, but no one cares to do anything about it? It's really sad how these girls think they are going to better their lives by doing this, they think there are no other options out there for them. It's things like this that make me proud to live in America and have the freedom to choose my own future and not feel pressured into doing something such as prostituting myself in order to provide for my future family. The way these men treat women is unbearable to me. It's incredible that in other parts of the world some women don't have the right to think for themselves, and are bossed around by awful sex-crazed men who think that they are superior to women. I'm so proud to live in a place that men respect women's opinions and women have the right to decide their own futures.

Wow, I am only 14 but, all this stuff has an effect on me. I mean, people are so sick. The Lifetime channel movie Human Trafficking also helped me learn a lot about this. It really makes me think of who i know does this nasty sick stuff. I hope these nasty bastards, excuse my language but it's true, go to hell for all the pain they are putting on these woman and children...These people who buy, traffick or even have these young women and children turn tricks for them are disgusting. Is this really how you want children to grow up? Being to afraid to let them out on the streets afraid of what sick bastard is going to pick them up outside? People just need to stand up for what they believe in and do something. Please just do something about all this.

Medicine Hat
The sale of women and children from poor countries cannot be stopped. Like the traffic of weapons and drugs, as long as there are men willing to pay, the need will be filled. On the other hand we can help poor countries to improve their economies. That is the only real solution and it requires political will. Will that is driven in the most affluent countries by votes. If the situation does not change we only have ourselves to blame. We will however have to drastically change the way we live in order to share the resources we now hog to the detriment of others.

John Harrison

Great work. However, you must realize that the word "trafficking" applies to a small percentage of those you describe in your article about Dubai. Having lived here for most of the last twenty years, I can say that the majority of the workers you describe as being "trafficked" are merely prostitutes selling their wares (either full or part-time) in a new city with better opportunities than in their homeland. Yes, some of these women are lied to and are forced into this line of business, but, from my knowledge of the situation, this is a small percentage. The rest are just making money.

L. Ninaber
Wingham, ON

The bottom line is what is being done now that this is exposed. There has to be no silence but help, so what can we do? It is one thing to expose but what about healing for these women? and prevention to stop the next woman from being sold?

Chicago, IL
These things I have spoken unto you that in me you might have peace in this world there will be tribulation, but take heart for I have over come the world- john 16:33

oleksandr ovchynnykov

Great work! I was surprised that even in the most conservative societies like Yemen or Saudi Arabia, you can easily find a prostitute.

Santa Paula, CA

Thank you for doing this piece, it is good for those who live so comfortably to have a view into lives fraught with true hardship. I especially enjoyed how you tied yourself into the work with such intimacy and explained that emigration was probably the reason you are not enslaved yourself- if ever there was something to be thankful for...

Some sort of action must be taken at once!

New York, NY

This was very sad and brought tears to my eyes. It's sad when people are ignorant to what other people go through in other countries.

Tina Carroll
Bay Area, CA

Wonderful, moving... and horrificly sad piece.
We as a people can make a difference... one human soul at a time.

Reach out... help those who might be too weak or afraid to ask for it.

Patricia DSouza
Dubai, UAE

Prostitution in this part of the world is very popular as this city takes pride in one of its oldest professions. As tourism is wildly promoted, a lot of these prostitutes cater to the needs of these tourists especially from the neighboring countries. Therefore trafficking continues whether the international community likes it or not.

Sakanta Running Wolf Bell-Gumaer
San Francisco, CA

If sex trafficking had the sentence of life imprisonment, wouldn't this slow it down? Are there any international organizations who can intervene? Thank you for your photos and story!

FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have highlighted the problem of international sex trafficking.
Others groups and web sites are included in our list of links and resources. Thank you for your interest.

montreal, quebec
The girls of Eastern Europe love their parents a lot and they are ready to help them by any price. This is a characteristic that we find in those people. Of course the poverety is a big problem for the ambitious people, but the biggest problem is in those who attract them by a false contract, and when they capture them,they force them to prostitute and maybe more.

Hammad A.
Portsmouth, VA

I have to say as heart wrenching as this is, I am grateful their story is being told against the palette of what we think the world appears to be in our daily lives. Thank you for your work. Your work and their lives are not in vain. I just wish...that I could download to keep as a reminder for future thought.

Far from Moldova, France

Those who will read this article will understand why I hide my name. I was in Bucharest for a business trip,I speak Romanian (even if I am not from this country). I met a man there who knew a Moldovan prostitute in Bucharest, he told me about her, how she had arrived (bad story) etc. He also told me that this girl had a friend who was in the same kind of situation, that this girl was very intelligent. I decided to call the agency and I dealt as if I was a customer(which I have never been), this girl came to my place and, of course, I didn't touch her, didn't tell her that I knew her story, but I considered her as my guest. I met her a few times during my business trip, and we flirted, but even if I had the occasion, I didn't touch her. She left Bucharest the same day as me, because she believed my promise to help her (I didn't give her any money, and for your info, I have no age difference with her, and I have always been successful with women). Time has passed and you,the people who have read my post are the only ones who know -- how I met my wife, the mother of our child and a wonderful woman.

Most of the girls who work as prostitutes don't have a clue of what they are going to see, how they are going to suffer and how they will be transformed for some money that they want to share with their families...

We will not change the world, this will always exist, richer people will always exploit the weak.

But for me, and this will be my conclusion, satisfying my conscience will always give me more pleasure than satisfying my desire (and believe me, I like sex).

Mark O' Brien
Dublin, Ireland

Very moving piece of work. Unfortunately the real problem is poverty which is forcing these women into these situations. This world has to realize that half the world living in poverty is unacceptable. Many scientists believe that we use about 5 percent of our brains, and that some day we will use 100 per cent then we will be able to go any where and do anything, I believe that we are a prototype it might take us a long time but hears to hoping for a better world, for everyone in the future.

Toowoomba,Australia, QLD

What does one say? It is a shame that people have to treat each other like this.

Chris Aranda
Walnut Creek, CA

Communities always need a starting point for discussion. Problems that are not discussed only fester, not disappear. I find this slide show a beautiful and haunting discussion-builder. It reveals the truth of the saying that "If you think education is expensive - try ignorance". If we are ignorant of realities in the wide world, our perception suffers and so do our relations with the world. If South Africans, or anyone, are ignorant of the causes and cures of Aids or rape, they suffer. I am so grateful for the people who have been in Africa, and other places, for decades trying to help. Thank you.

ipoh, perak
i am a medical student in ukraine and its a shame knowing whats happening within the country i am in now...... i hope such people rot in hell....... does humanity have any value??? the government should implement heavier punishments.......

Troy, Alabama
All of this is very difficult to digest....I am engaged to a wonderful woman from Kishinev...I was there last December, and will return in late May. I will spend about a week with her, then go over to Donetsk, Ukraine, to work as a supervisor for a church group that is building an orphanage there. In US, I am a contractor, and hope that I can contribute to the sad situation in Ukraine,and even Moldova. I fell in love with Moldova, and the people in gereral, and of course, my fiancee in particular... I would like to help.
Allan Wood

San Diego, CA

An educating piece of work! This is a very cruel trade. There are stories like the one you work on in Moldova in countries like Yemen, where the Somali refugee women and girls are sold and subjected with this kind of practice. My heart aches for the women and girls.

Alexander B.
Oslo, --Norway

Very nice work. Unfortunately I doubt it will have any lasting impact to adversely affect the sex-trade as there is just too much money involved and most regular people do not want to deal with such issues unless it affects them, and by then they are alone or almost alone with no outside help rendered to them or incapacitated officials with budgets that restrict them to anything but token gestures... But, I guess one can hope for a better tomorrow....

Minneapolis, MN
This is a shame for the whole of Europe and the world for that matter. Like Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and many poor underprivileged women the world over, this problem is not for Moldovan only but for all of us. What is to be blamed? Poverty! What is the solution? Our collective effort!

People in the West do not understand how people in Eastern Europe are vulnerable to exploitation. "Old Friends" call them up and promise them jobs that pay much more than at home. People consider living abroad and breaking the law despite news reports telling of people taken advantage of in Western or other countries. The immigrants do not think it will happen to them, despite warnings by family members.


Excellent work and thank you for being one of the few who has enough moral conviction to expose such atrocities of the new slave trades in our modern society. Although, it can happen to boys or young men too, but all too often it's the women who suffer more from such a crime of humanity. This sort of crime must be exposed more and loudly to gain the attention of our world governments. This crime is victimizing innocent people all over the world. Let us those who are aware of this crime of humanity cry out for the victims who are trapped that they may be rescued from the abyss of this terrible crime.

Larysa Larysa
Los Angeles, CA

Very touching, great work. But what to do about it?

Elizabeth F.
Fairfax, Va

Recently, a friend of mine loaned me a book that I "had to read". The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade by Victor Malarek details tomes of accounts similar to the horrors expressed in the photo-essay. The problem of human trafficking is vexing and even more disturbing is the growing demand for such a damaging and demeaning practice. I commend your efforts in telling the story of these voiceless women and hope that you continue to use your talent to enlighten those who may otherwise have remained ignorant to this situation.

Denver, CO

Very moving and insightful journalism, nicely done.
By the way: to the anonymous journalist from Moldova, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe.

Alistair Higgins
Norwich, Norfolk

I am very serious about setting up a pressure group in relation to anti sex trafficking. I would like to get in touch with anyone in the UK who would like to help. I have read a couple of interviews from this site and have been sickened by them.

Monique Thomas
New York, NY

Top-noched, direct Frontline coverage, as usual. Leaves the listeners with the ever growing reality that this is indeed a truly degenerate world, and that much of this human degeneracy does not always come from those "savages" from Third World countries, but from the same individuals who claim to have had "civilized" European ancestors. There is also a vast problem of child prostitution solicitation in Israel, and while policemen obliviously drive their cars in my home town- they pass sedans in which little boys six years old are being paid to "perform" for adult male pedophiles. I've witnessed these activities several times in my life, and needless to say, I could do little to help these children other than to report to these same policemen of what I had seen. And the crimes keep going on.

Monique Thomas
New York, NY

Top-noched, direct Frontline coverage, as usual. Leaves the listeners with the ever growing reality that this is indeed a truly degenerate world, and that much of this human degeneracy does not always come from those "savages" from Third World countries, but from the same individuals who claim to have had "civilized" European ancestors. There is also a vast problem of child prostitution solicitation in Israel, and while policemen obliviously drive their cars in my home town- they pass sedans in which little boys six years old are being paid to "perform" for adult male pedophiles. I've witnessed these activities several times in my life, and needless to say, I could do little to help these children other than to report to these same policemen of what I had seen. And the crimes keep going on.

Becky Bavinger
Washington, DC

This is an amazing photo gallery and tremendous work to get their stories heard. I encourage those who see this to support similar women through economic empowerment:

Sterling, VA
I love PBS and Frontline. This story is very important, but more importantly is to tell people like me what we can do to help solve the problem, organizations we can contact, etc. I am thankful to be informed, but left in deep frustration because now I'm stirred to action, but I have no clue as to where I can start. Neverthe less, thank you again for educating me, and all those who watch.

Patrick Comey
Dushanbe, Tajikistan

I hope many around the world see your story. Too many people think that women chose this work when the reality is that few would. Movies that glorify prostitution make it easier for this tragedy to exist. The well-paid "high-class" call girl is an exception to the rule. Congratulations on producing a stunning works.

Orhei, Moldova
As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Moldova I hear these stories from time to time. They are sad and depressing tales and sadly will not cease to happen until the laws here change and the economy improves.

These people are trying to help

Scot Hacker
Berkeley, CA

Mimi, this was such a moving slideshow. It seems so brief - you must have collected hundreds of images, must have had so much to say, and yet this tiny handful of experiences paints such a powerful picture. Thanks for presenting this work.

This is a subject that we as Americans have little or no exposure to. Your work is strikingly honest, brave and informative.

Megan J.
Seattle, Washington

This story made me ill! The fact that women are treated as objects and sold into sexual slavery by other women is an act of traders. Something needs to be done to support these women in dealing with the psychological and physical damage they suffer after the ordeal.

Gig Harbor, WA
I was aware that this exists, though not of the details or of these specific countries. I know that this horrendous trade exits in many other places besides your spotlighted Turkey. You did not mention Nepal. I support a fund for women called The Little Sister's Fund. This fund is a scholarship and mentoring program for motivated Nepalese girls living in extreme poverty. Without fund support, these girls might be forced to discontinue school, and would be susceptible to child labor, child marriage, and/or child trafficking -- including the international sex industry. They have a saying "If you educate a boy, you educate a person. If you educate a girl, you educate a family and the next generation". I spent 32 years working internationally, I have seen how the world lives. We are all wealthy in America compared to the rest of the world. We each owe a debt for this bounty. Share what you have with the less fortunate.

Seattle, WA
Deeply moved by your work and I applaud your courage and commitment. I can find a streak of prurient curiosity in my conditioned male self, but it is quickly extinguished by the sight and anguished story of these exploited desperate girls and mothers. A deep sadness remains.

Melissa Brown
Bothell, WA

Amazing piece of work. Gut wrenching and horrifying. The undercover work was nerve-racking to witness.

Adithya Sambamurthy
Oakland, CA

It's hard to put into words what I feel after seeing this. Maybe it's a testament to the stories of these women and the quality of the photography. I really feel the dignity and care with which you have approached them in your pictures.

Annelise Wunderlich
San Francisco, CA

As usual, your work reflects such a deep and compassionate connection with the people you are photographing. While the form of the photos is always beautiful, I am always drawn straight to their humanity. Thank you.


M. D.
Berkeley, CA


Robert Upton
Tucson, AZ

It is a sad truth that this outrage is a common occurrence. Not only does this travesty occur in the "former Eastern bloc," but occurs from the Far East to the African continent and American inner cities. It is an indictment against our own self-interest and moral indifference as fellow members of the human family. Sexual exploitation and slavery is an ultimate rape of the human soul.

Elza Ibroscheva
Edwardsville, IL

Dear Mimi, I just wanted to say THANK you for the piece you did on Moldova! It
was simply riveting. As a Bulgarian, an Eastern European woman, and a fellow academic, I simply want to say thank you for doing so. Your photos are deeply moving and touch the mind and the heart. I sincerely hope that everyone gets a chance to see these images as they show both the beauty and the suffering of our women. Thanks again!

Gabor Kovacs

I agree with Mr. Heltmann; we have many Moldovan girls working here in Budapest and their price is indeed less than local girls. Curiously, I have spoken to many of these Moldovan girls and to my shock they always claim they enjoy what they do, and it's a better life than in Moldova!

I am Moldovan and I am abroad for many years. Many girls from former Soviet counties (not only Moldova!) were abused with sex in other countries. Because I am a journalist I disagree strongly with your presentation of the problem. I disagree with presentation of the country profile. We are not the poorest nation in Europe!

FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
Thank you for your comment. You are correct that many women trafficked into the sex trade come from countries throughout Eastern and Central Europe. However, one reason Ms. Chakarova focused on Moldova is because more than 200,000 Moldovan women have been trafficked abroad since the collapse of communism - an astonishing number for a country of Moldova's size.

The country profile was based on information from various sources, including the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report (2005); The Washington Post, and the CIA World Factbook. And as reported in this month's The Economist, "remittances make up more than a quarter of Moldova's GDP--a figure exceeded worldwide only in Haiti and Tonga."

Heltmann Atilla

I would say that 60 to 70 percent of our prostitutes come from Moldova. In fact, we joke that it's Moldova's only export. I frequent brothels with Moldovan women because they are cheaper than Hungarian and Ukrainian prostitutes.

A. Cristina
Windsor, CA

Sex trafficking of women, of children -- what does it say? What does it mean? Where's the blame? Do well-to-do women or girls sell themselves into the sex trade? Do women with good jobs and/or good husbands who're good providers sell themselves into the sex trade? Do they migrate and expose themselves to being kidnapped, tricked or sold into it? Do girls from good homes sell themselves, or risk being sold? NO. These are not the women one finds in the sex trade, except perhaps as a unique exception and rare case. Poverty creates the sex trade. Abuse creates the sex trade. These women and children are the lost souls of lost societies. As individuals and as a group, they represent the failure, the shame, the indictment of our modern, "highly evolved" society. They represent the lie we tell ourselves and the world about ourselves. Europe will be a true Union when of no nation in it one can say what is true of Moldova and others now. The failure and the shame are the world's to own and to share. The responsibility to end the outrage is that of every grown man and woman in every walk of life. Until the sexual enslavement of human beings ends in the world, until then we remain what we are and deny: BARBARIANS!

Matthew Wakeman
San Francisco, CA

Wow Mimi, phenomenal work. I felt like I was there with you. You've made the story so vivid and so real it's haunting. I have goose pimples.

Wichita, KS
Great work.