Monday, August 15, 2005

Freed from sexual slavery thanks to a tip-off

August 15, 2005 12:00am
Source: Turkish Daily News

Five Ukrainian women who were tortured and imprisoned in a basement in Turkey by sex traffickers have been freed, thanks to a special telephone hotline, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Friday.

The women -- one of whom was held for six years -- were to return to Ukraine after being rescued by Turkish police, following a call to the 157 hotline run by the IOM, the Geneva-based organization said

"This case is one of the worst instances of trafficking we have documented in Turkey," said IOM official Marielle Sander Lindstrom in a statement.

The women, who were forced into prostitution, were tortured with boiling oil and kept in a windowless basement near the southern resort town of Antalya

However, one managed to call the hotline using a mobile telephone belonging to a client or trafficker, and they were freed on Aug. 1, said the IOM

Turkish police rescued a further five victims of trafficking on Aug. 3 in the southern city of Mersin, again thanks to a call to the hotline, the IOM added.

They also had been tortured and kept in a basement.

"Our greatest concern is that these cases taken together may represent a new level of cruelty and torture inflicted on trafficked individuals," said Sander Lindstrom. [Is is a new level of cruelty, or one that is finally being uncovered and recognized by authorities? - Donna]

Launched in May and aimed mainly at women from former communist countries, the hotline is staffed by Russian, Romanian and Turkish speakers who pass on to the police emergency calls from victims as well tip-offs from other people.

Criminal gangs with promises of well-paying jobs lure impoverished women from Eastern Europe to Turkey, but many are later forced into prostitution or other jobs in the underground labor market.

The IOM said it was offering the Ukrainian women help to rebuild their lives at home, including medical and psychological support, legal aid, family and housing allowances and education or business grants



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