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2014 (Narrative Date)

There are an estimated 24,000 people living in modern slavery in Kyrgyzstan and 509,000 in Turkey (GSI 2018). Kyrgyzstan remains a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Women from across the former Soviet Republic often travel to neighbouring countries with the promise of jobs as nannies, domestic workers, work in hotels and in the catering and entertainment sectors. However, upon arrival they find themselves sold to a pimp and forced in to sex work to pay off debt incurred for transportation, accommodation and the opportunity.

Salima* was trafficked from Kyrgyzstan to Turkey to work as a sex worker.

I was in trouble. I really needed money. She [her friend] said I would be working as a cleaner in a supermarket for $800 a month. I agreed, then they got me a passport, and I left for Turkey with a friend. They met us there, and they told us that we owed them $4,000 and took our passports. They kept me in a basement. I refused to work. I was pregnant, I was sick. But I had to live there and serve the clients in the basement. They didn’t let me out. I worked there for a month. I served 20-25 clients a day. I told the boss that I couldn’t work but they forced me.

I had a check-up two weeks ago when I came back from Turkey. In Turkey, I had three miscarriages, I think. I told the pimp that I had to go to a hospital, but they didn’t care whether I was sick or not. They said I had to pay off the debt, and then they would let me go to the hospital.

Narrative provided by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.