There are an estimated 24,000 people living in modern slavery in Kyrgyzstan and 5,000 in Cyprus (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.
Gulnaz* found a job at a nightclub in Cyprus through a Russian social network site. When she arrived, the club’s owner took her documents and phone, threatened her and beat her.
He hit me hard in the ear. My head was spinning, my ears were ringing, and I fell down. He threatened that if I went home, there would be problems for my relatives because he’s from the mafia and has friends in the police.
[Three weeks later] I grabbed my bag and made it to the corner of the building. I threw the sheets over the barbed wire. My arms and legs were all scratched. I walked through a field, and there a boy and a young man delivering pizza helped me.
For a while I was thinking I should take pills or hang myself. I was thinking about suicide. I’m from a good family, and I couldn’t accept that I could become a prostitute. If my relatives found out, there would be problems. We have enough problems in our family. I thought it would make things works. I didn’t want to make them ashamed of me, but it’s what happened. But my parents don’t know.
I’m not interested in anything. I don’t want anything. Whether I live or die, it’s all the same. I’m just existing.
Narrative provided by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
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