Like Katerina, Anya, 25, was tricked into going to Turkey with "Olga," a trafficker, where she was sold as a prostitute to a group of pimps. However, the pimps were caught in a police sting ten days later and "Anya" was sent home to Ukraine. She has since learned she is HIV positive. This interview was conducted on July 13, 2004.
What are the events that led to you meeting Olga, the woman who trafficked you to Turkey?
She has an acquaintance called Elena who lives not far from my village. My friend introduced me to Elena and said Elena could help me find a job in a shop where I could earn a lot of money and where Russian people work. … Elena told me that she would get me to Turkey. She brought me and my friend to Moldova, introduced us to Olga and asked her to take us to Turkey. Elena was not able to cross the border. I don't know why. Elena stayed in Moldova. …
What kind of work did you think you would be doing in Turkey?
[I thought] I was going to work in a shop. We were told that there are a lot of middle-aged women from Moldova and Russia working there. …
What was Olga like?
She was a pleasant woman. There were lots of Moldavian men with us when we were sitting in her mini-bus. There were also some women: young and old. They all went with us. We were going to work, however we didn't know where everyone else was going.
Describe the bus, how many people were on it?
There were approximately 15 people in that bus.
How did you get through customs?
She drove us in her mini-bus to Odessa. We waited in Odessa for approximately one day -- till evening. She bought tickets for us.
Everybody boarded the ship. We were waiting for Olga as we were supposed to board the ship with her. We were supposed to stay in the same cabin with her. The cabin fits four people. There were not enough tickets in the booking office for everyone. She accommodated more people than usual in the same cabin. Me and Katerina slept on the same bed. There were two Moldovan men and another woman with us. There were 5 people in total in our cabin.
Can you describe the boat and the ride?
We went to the disco. We rested. She bought anything we wanted to eat and drink.
Where were your passports?
When we boarded the ship, the captain took everybody's passport. When we got off the boat we were given our passports back with visas attached to them . We went out … through customs. We had our passports with us. There was a café in front of the port. There were some men sitting at a table outside of this café. She brought us to those men and said that one of them was the owner of the shop. She told us they were going to drive us to the apartment where we were going to stay. She herself counted the money she was given by the men and left.
Did you wonder what they were paying money for?
As far as I understood they paid her for the tickets.
…One of those men could understand Russian a bit. We were seated in the car with those men. Olga didn't go with us. She said the [men] would bring us to the apartment where we were supposed to live. They brought us to a villa in Ankara. One man stayed with us all the time making sure we couldn't go anywhere. We were shocked and frightened. We couldn't go anywhere. We could not even go shopping. They brought food for us. We cooked for ourselves. … We were kept for two more days. After that they brought us to a shop and bought us some clothes. We had our own clothes, but they were too simple for them. Since they bought us, they wanted us to work for them as prostitutes. …
What was going through your mind when they said you were going to be pimped?
… We decided to try to escape from this villa. However, the man was with us all the time . Whenever he had to leave , he locked us inside. There was no way to escape. …
Did they take away your passports at this point?
No, we had our passports with us.
What happened next?
One week after they bought us clothes, they drove us to another flat, to the clients who were waiting for us. We worked for two hours. After we finished work, we were taken in the car and driven back.
Did you say you were not going to do it? Did you try to fight back?
Once we tried to tell them that we wouldn't do it. One girl started crying as she had been there for two months already. … She asked them to let her go home and leave us instead of her. We also said that we didn't want to stay and asked them to let us go home. One of the guys said that he would send us home in one week.
On one evening they said we were going to the market. It was 8 p.m. They never went shopping with us before. That evening they took three of us together. There was a driver and one of the men. I don't know where exactly we went. Once we got there another car stopped next to ours. The man got out of the car and started to count money. Another mini-bus approached and we realized that it was the police. That's how we were saved. They took our passports. We were taken to the police station. I don't know exactly which one. We were told that we would be deported home.
How long were you there?
One week and three days to be precise.
What were the conditions like?
We slept as much as we wanted. Our job started at around 2 p.m. it lasted for two hours a day. Sometimes we were together with another girl. Sometimes one girl worked (the whole two hours). The others stayed at home, cooked or cleaned the villa. However, there were some days when everyone went to work and did it three times a day. There was enough food. They fed us well. However, there were days when we did not have time to eat. There were days when we did it four times per two hours each.
Have you ever had to do work like this before?
Of course not. Where could I do it? That was the first time. I have never gone anywhere before. I have a little daughter. I needed money. … I was told that they pay good money in Turkey. You cannot make more than 100 grivnas1 here, in my village.
What did you tell the pimp when first he told you had to service a client?
He did not tell us anything. He simply said to dress up. We dressed up and went to the car. Then he asked us to get out of the car. We got out of the car and followed him. He brought us to the apartment and said, "You've got to have sex with him [the man in the apartment] for two hours." That is it. You could resist or cry, but there was no way out. I had to stay and do whatever he wanted. …
How did you handle that?
I had to get over it. For the first few days I was crying. Who will help us? Where can we go? We did not even know where we were. When we were in the car we were looking to see if there was any police somewhere. There were no police at all. They were always driving through back roads where there were no police. They knew it. They did not expect to get caught by police. …
Do you realize how lucky you are that you didn't get sold and sold and sold?
I've heard that some girls were resold. The policemen said that they knew these [men] very well. They followed them for a while and could not catch them. They even were listening to their telephone conversations. The police sent these clients in order to catch them. We were obviously lucky. …
How did you endure that week, how did you survive it?
How could I survive it? All three of us were sitting together in the room and were trying to psychologically help one another. [The men] had food together with us. We cooked for them, and they ate with us. When they fell asleep we would go to the kitchen in order to talk privately and think of how to escape. We were afraid of being sold again. …
If you had a chance to talk to Olga, what would you say to her?
I believe Elena has more guilt [than Olga], because she sold us to Olga. In fact she sold us not to Olga, but to those pimps. Because Elena knew those pimps very well; we became aware of that later, when we were deported. She asked Olga to traffic us and to collect money, because Elena is not allowed to cross the border. …
How old were you when all of this happened?
It happened in spring of this year. It happened in 2004. I am 25 years old.
If someone offered you a job in another country today, what would you do?
I would never go anywhere again. That was enough [for] me. They ruined my life.
How did they ruin your life?
They forced us to have sex with different Turkish men. They did whatever they wanted to us.
What gave you the strength to endure that?
How did I manage? I was thinking of my daughter all the time. If it wasn't for my daughter I would have thrown myself out the window. I had thoughts like that. I did not want to live. I knew she was waiting for me at home. That's what kept me alive.
Why do you think trafficking is such a big problem in the Ukraine?
I believe that this happens because of money. Our people need money. Some would do anything for money. … Human life is worthless to them. As far as I know from TV there are a lot of pimps right now. And girls are so naïve. They believe that they will go and earn. Just like I believed the first time. Thanks to the police I came home safe. I think it's better to live on those 100 grivnas than go somewhere abroad. That is what I think, because they sell all young girls abroad now.
What are you going to do now?
… I am planning to start working from the 1st of September. Some businessmen opened a factory in our village. I am going to work there. There is no reason to go anywhere else.
How old is your child?
She is 7 years old.
What are your dreams and hopes for your little girl?
I would like her to be an actress. She dances very well. She does not sing well, but she dances well. I'm going to send her to dance classes in a neighboring town. I hope she will perform one day, and I'll be able to see it. What can one wish for one's daughter? All the best.
How much money could you make a month where you live, and how much were you promised in Turkey?
If you work in our village you will get paid 250 grivnas a month. … We were told that we could earn $200 per month in the shop.
Did you get paid at all?
We were not given money at all by the pimps. Some Turkish men, clients, used to give us some money. Some clients felt sorry for us and gave us money and said "This is for you, you can buy whatever you want."
What do you estimate the pimps made of your labor?
I believe they received around $500 per week for one girl. …
Do you have anything you would like to add?
I can only advise Ukrainian girls not to go to Turkey because people there are very bad.
1 Ukrainian money - equivalent of approximately $18 (US dollars).