Today's Guardian article, Europe's brothel - in a corner of Spain talks about the growing sex industry in northeastern Spain, which is being fueled by the creation of huge macro-brothels stocked almost entirely with women from other countries. I was disappointed in the article because it read too much like an ad for the brothels. Maybe I misread lines like, "The brothels here, just a few miles from the tourist beaches of the Costa Brava,..." or "Located on a main road just inside the Spanish border with France,..." as being a little too inviting. My main problem with the article is that I felt the horrors of human trafficking were not adequately discussed, limited to,
In reality, say campaigners, only a minority of brothels obey both the spirit and letter of the law. Many are run by mafia outfits using women trafficked from around the world or who are forced to pay off massive, interest-bearing "debts" to those who brought them here.There is a huge international problem which sees men, women and children being harvested in poorer countries and then sold or rented in richer ones. The article spends several inches informing us that the women are from developing countries, or eastern European countries, but not enough inches on the problem of sex trafficking. It does mention illegal immigrants,
Just over a mile up the road, police this week raided a notorious club called Lady's Dallas. A total of 143 prostitutes were working there, including 38 illegal immigrants and one under-age Romanian girl. The prostitutes came from 15 developing world and eastern European countries. None was Spanish.Amnesty International Canada says in France, "Trafficked women are often arrested and charged for soliciting, or as illegal immigrants." Has illegal immigrants become the new euphemism for sex slaves in these situations?
The US State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report, released two weeks ago, states,
A wide range of estimates exists on the scope and magnitude of modern-day slavery, both internal and transnational. The International Labor Organization (ILO)Âthe United Nations (UN) agency charged with addressing labor standards, employment, and social protection issuesÂestimates there are 12.3 million people in forced labor, bonded labor, forced child labor, and sexual servitude at any given time; other estimates range from 4 million to 27 million.Near the end of the Guardian article, we meet Claudia,
Claudia, 25, arrived from her home in the Transylvania region of Romania two years ago. She escaped from the pimp who brought her to Spain but continues to sell her body at Madam's.The State Department's report opens with Reena,
"He has threatened to kill me and has even come here to the club," she says. Three black-uniformed security guards, kitted with combat boots, batons and walkie-talkies, man the doors.
She sends money home to her mother and the five-year-old son she has not seen for two years. "It means they have three or four times as much money as they would normally earn," she says.
Reena was brought to India from Nepal by her maternal aunt, who forced the 12-year-old girl into a New Delhi brothel shortly after arrival. The brothel owner made her have sex with many clients each day. Reena could not leave because she did not speak Hindi and had no one to whom she could turn. She frequently saw police officers collect money from the brothel owners for every new girl brought in. The brothel owner coached Reena and all the girls to tell anyone who asked that they were 25 years old and had voluntarily joined the brothel. Reena escaped after two years and now devotes her life to helping other trafficking victims escape.Up to 27 million. How many Claudias, how many Reenas, and how many others whose stories are far worse and will never be told. Not as pretty as Van Gogh, or the Guardian, painted it.