SEXUAL SLAVERY: AN EVIL TO BE FACED
WASHINGTON -- Anita Sharma Bhattari
told a Conference on Sexual Trafficking how she was abducted from Nepal to a
A couple gave her a banana on a
bus, and she became sick. The solicitous couple then gave her a pill. She
fell unconscious and woke up in a train in India, shattered: ''I am from a
mountain village. I did not know what a train was.'' A man told her not to
cry out because drugs were tied around her waist, which she had smuggled
across an international border.
Five days later they arrived in
Bombay where the man took the drugs and handed her to a brothel where she
was told she ''had been bought and would have to work as a prostitute to pay
them back.'' When she insisted on leaving, other Nepali women slapped her
face and cut off her hair, marking her as a prostitute.
When Anita's first client tried to
rape her, she resisted so much that the brothel owners beat her. By the next
day she had three or four clients a day. Eventually, she escaped.
There are 200,000 other Nepali
girls, many under age 14, who are virtual sexual slaves in India alone,
according to Dr. Laura Lederer, director of the Protection Project of
Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. From one to two million children and
women are forced into prostitution each year, several hundred thousand of
which are being abducted from the former Soviet Union.
Dr. Lederer tells of Lydia, aged
16, hanging out with friends in a Russian city, ''who is approached by an
older, beautifully dressed woman who tells them they are so nice-looking she
could get them part-time jobs in modeling. She buys them dinner and then
invites them home for a drink. That drink is the last thing Lydia remembers.
The drugged girls are driven unconscious across the border into Western
Europe, flown to Israel or even as far away as Japan.
''When Lydia awoke she was alone,
in a strange room, in a foreign country. Her friends were gone. A while
later, a man came into the room and told her that she now belonged to him.
`I own you,' he said. `You are my property and you will work for me until I
say stop. Don't try to leave. You have no papers, no passport and you don't
speak the language.'''
He told her, if she tried to
escape, his men would come after her and beat her and bring her back, and
that her family back home would be in danger. She owed his agency $35,000
which she would work off in a brothel by sexually servicing 10 to 20 men a
Even though Lydia was stunned, she
angrily refused to cooperate. The man then beat her raped her and sent in
his friends to gang rape her. She was left in a room for three days without
food and water. Frightened and broken, she succumbed, and became a
The U.S. is not immune. Between
50,000 and 100,000 are lured into sexual slavery into America each year,
reports the State Department, primarily from Russia and the Ukraine. I
interviewed Sgt. Walter Zalisko, of Jersey City Police, whose parents are
Ukrainian. He has interrogated 400 girls smuggled here by the Russian
mafia. ''We have bars in Newark, N.J. where you can find 18 Slavic women
dancing.'' They have ''student visas,'' but can't name their college.
Rich Cizik, Washington director of
the National Association of Evangelicals, an organizer of the Conference on
Sexual Trafficking, says, ''We can no longer hide from this evil. We intend
to confront it, engage it, stand up to it and lastly, show the world another
How? He rounded up support from
such prominent religious and moral conservatives as Chuck Colson, William
Bennett, Bill Bright, James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, Fr. Richard John
Neuhaus, and from such liberals as Gloria Steinem and Rabbi David
Saperstein, and had them sign a letter to Congressional leaders supporting a
''Freedom From Sexual Trafficking Act'' proposed by Reps. Chris Smith
(R-N.J.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).
''The Act authorizes assistance to
victims of sexual trafficking, calls on all countries to criminally
prosecute their traffickers, and mandates the withdrawal of non-humanitarian
aid to those countries that refuse to take minimal action against sexual
traffickers,'' they said.
A National Council of Churches
spokesman called the bill ''misguided'' while Catholic bishops have remained
Cizik can't understand it: ''Sexual
slavery today is comparable to the slave trade of the 18thand 19th
Yet there is only one known case in the U.S. where traffickers were
Copyright 1999 Michael J. McManus.
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