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Thanks to a friend who brought this to me attention.
Think back to 2008 an the following news story hit the press, fueling the sex trafficking stories, and setting the scene for the Labour Government to bring in anti sex work laws.
The special report by award winning journalist Chris Rogers also ran on ITV’s News at 10 and on CNN in 2008, as well as in the Daily Mail Night and Day magazine – detailing how they had managed to buy a 14-year-old from sex slave traders at a petrol station in Iasi, a town in north eastern Romania.
She actually was 25 years, old and a known Romanian sex worker Monica Ghinga. I am not sure why this has hit the news, this piece of information was available back in 2008 on the Guardian Website of all places.
I post this some what in puzzlement, why has this old piece of news suddenly appeared again? Seems that it has been commented on in the Romania papers recently. Monica has recently been charged with prostitution in Romania after a three year investigation, and is introduced in their papers as Prostitute CNN.
I post it as a couple of warnings.
Quote from the police interview.
PO: Did they say what kind of girl they were looking for?
GM: Yes, under age. I pretended to be 14 at the beginning, then I said I was 16.
PO: How old are you actually?
GM: I am 25.
One of the many quotes in Pisani’s book about questioning and what can go wrong.
Now think of it from the other side of the clipboard. Al comes up to you with his melting smile and asks if he can have a few minutes of your time. You melt. You’ve seen him around, in his Rainbow T-shirt, and you know he carries a bag from which condoms and lubricant magically appear. Like pretty much every guy in Prego, you know perfectly well that you should be using condoms when you have anal sex. And you do, most of the time. Well, sometimes. Anyway, you always mean to. And you know Al wants you to. So when he comes to asking you whether you used a condom the last time you had sex, you say yes. Because after all, if you had had one handy, you probably would have used it.
There is one quote I must give from that book which is so revealing how rumours can start, and which could so easily turn into fact.
A couple of months later, I was back in Dili. The day after I arrived, I spoke to Tim. ‘Oh, are you still interested in trafficking?’ he asked, almost casually. ‘I’ve had a report of three Chinese girls trafficked in. They say the trafficker was a UN staffer.’ Good story! I was a bit surprised they were Chinese – in this part of the world ‘trafficking’ is a word more often associated with Vietnamese or Javanese women. But there may be a growing taste for Chinese women. Those three Chinese hookers I was chatting to at the airport yesterday, for example …
Hang on a minute. When did this happen, Tim? ‘Just yesterday.’ And the UN staffer, who was that? ‘Some white woman. We haven’t been able to identify her yet. She was taking care of all of their paperwork.’
So there it was. The girls had been on the same flight as me. From their clothes, their hair, their make-up, I’d guessed they were on the game. Never one to skip an opportunity to keep up with the industry, I sidled up to them in the chaotic immigration queue and dusted off my Chinese small-talk. I found out that a local businessman was offering girls three-month stints selling sex to the Chinese community in Dili. ‘We were really lucky to get in,’ said one girl. They got the nod from a friend who had done the run six months earlier. ‘She bought a car when she got home.’ Admiration all round. I helped them fill in their forms and promised to visit them soon at the restaurant where they would be based.
The fact is, most women sell sex for the same reason that people flip burgers in McDonald’s, clean other people’s toilets, hack coal out of a mine or do any number of other poorly paid, unpleasant and sometimes dangerous jobs. To make money.
Sometimes quite good money. A sex worker usually earns quite a bit more than a woman making sports shoes or jogging outfits in a factory. Granted, it is not nice work. You sit around in dark, sweaty, airless rooms with the doof-doof background noise thudding in your ears, being leered over by some guy who has more power than you. That’s in the factory. In the brothel, it’s more or less the same, except that you take your clothes off and allow the leering to go further. The other difference, of course, is the pay packet. In the factory you earn 19 cents an hour. In the brothel your take-home pay averages about US$3.15 an hour. Two horrid jobs; one pays sixteen times more than the other