Mother Tells of Ordeal as a "Sex Slave" for NATO Soldiers

Moldavian, 28, Goes Public With Her Sufferings in Macedonia

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LECCE, Italy, FEB. 4, 2001 ( For Anna, a 28-year-old Moldavian mother, a promise of work in Italy turned out to be the start of a nightmare.

Instead of finding employment as a waitress, as she was promised, she ended up being forced into prostitution in Macedonia, where she became a veritable «sex slave» of the NATO forces. Hers is not an isolated case in Eastern Europe, according to a priest familiar with the region.

Anna, who has been taken in by the Regina Pacis center of the Diocese of Lecce, spoke publicly of her ordeal, which has lasted almost a year.

«For $100 they could do with me what they felt like,» she said. «They would arrive drunk at any time, pay, and stop at nothing. I wanted [at least] one of the many soldiers who took me to bed to help me. But they paid, only wanted one thing, and would not listen.»

Thousands of young women from the East have suffered a similar fate. But Anna is one of the few who has decided to talk openly about the abuses she suffered. Anna blamed the NATO forces in the Balkans, specifically the Kosovo Force, or KFOR, quartered in Macedonia.

According to Anna, the KFOR soldiers abused her for 10 months as a «sex slave.»

Her nightmare began in a small town in Moldova near Romania. Some men of her country got in touch with her and duped her with an offer of work in Italy as a waitress.

Subsequently, she was sold in the sex market and became the «property» of Romanians, Kosovars and Macedonians, until she arrived in Truka, a small city where KFOR has its barracks. «French, English, Italian and German» soldiers paid to abuse her sexually, she said.

Eventually, the young woman was sold again and arrived in Italy from Valona. Her final destiny was meant to be the streets of the United Kingdom. But Anna denounced her «buyer» and found refuge with the Regina Pacis center.

The young woman now wants to change her life and return to her 8-year-old son who is waiting for her in Moldova. Father Cesare Lodeserto, director of Regina Pacis, plans to travel to Moldavia with Elisa Pozza Tasca, president of the European Council´s commission on violence against women.

Father Lodeserto explained that Anna´s case is not unique. This is the tip of the iceberg of trade in human beings, he said. International mafias deceive the victims with false promises of a job in the Western «paradise,» but then enslave them as prostitutes.

The priest said he has many stories to tell similar to Anna´s, and has no doubts about the young woman´s statements.

«In Truka, in Macedonia,» he said, «there might be at least 80 young women who are kept hidden and controlled by organizations of evildoers who exploit them, placing them at the disposition of the military of the multinational peace force.»

Father Lodeserto said that in Truka there are Moldavian, Ukrainian, Romanian and Albanian women in a situation like Anna´s. He noted that Anna´s native area is close to Romania and said, «it isn´t absurd to think of a veritable ´trade route´ of these traffickers, a route in which there are women susceptible to being deceived and subjected to slavery, to be sold in Europe.»

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