On a per capita basis Modolva, a small piece of territory near Ukraine, has earned the invidious distinction of being Europe's top exporter of sex slaves.
The Republic of Moldova (formerly Moldavia) is a landlocked country of hilly plains lying west of the Carpathian Mountains between the Prut and Dniester (Dnestr) Rivers.The country is sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine. Chiļin„u (formerly Kishinev) is its capital and largest city.
Moldova is one of the poorest countries in the region despite recent progress.. It enjoys a favorable climate and good farmland but has no major mineral deposits. As a result, the economy depends heavily on agriculture. Although it returned to positive growth in 2000, (6.8% in 2004), the economy remains vulnerable to higher fuel prices, poor agricultural weather, and the skepticism of foreign investors.
U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2007, says Moldova is a major source, and to a lesser extent, a transit country for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.
Moldovan women are trafficked to Turkey, Israel, the U.A.E., Ukraine, Russia, Cyprus, Greece, Albania, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Italy, France, Portugal, and Austria. Girls and young women are trafficked internally from rural areas to Chisinau.
The small breakaway region of Transnistria in eastern Moldova is outside the central government's control and remains a significant source and transit area for trafficking in persons.
When concerned non-governmental organizations seek to take a hand and stem the burgeoning human trafficking, they don't seem to get enough help from either Moldova or Transnistria.
Because of their long-running territorial dispute, there is a near-total lack of cooperation and partnerships at the official level in checking the scourge.
During 2006, the hotline in Tiraspol, capital of Pridnestrovie, (also known as Transdniestria) received 200 calls, mostly prevention cases, but also calls from victims of trafficking, from parents of trafficked persons, and so-called SOS calls, regarding supposed or ongoing cases of trafficking, according to Victor Lutenco, representative of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), a UN agency. .
In Moldova, the situation is much worse. Although formerly one of the most wealthy parts of the former Soviet Union, Moldova is today officially the poorest country in Europe. With nearly total unemployment, the registered daily income of 80% of the population is below a dollar per day. This fact can explain why desperate people sell their organs for money and sex trafficking is rampant.
According to a UNICEF survey, "90% of Moldovans aged between 18-29 would like to leave the country ...only 9% said they would like to live in Moldova." Freedom House says: "Some 800,000 inhabitants of Moldova have left the country to pursue a better life elsewhere, and the majority of the country's remaining population lives in poverty."
40% of Moldova's sex slaves are kids, and both the traffickers and the involved government officials know that children are highly sought after for the sex trade.
The sex trafficking in minors takes place with the assistance of government officials who make the major share of the income from the trade, it is alleged..
Most often, the victims are women and children headed to the Middle East and other European countries. They often become slaves forced into the sex trade.
ABC News cite reports that trafficking has reached epidemic proportions: A $42.5 billion illegal industry.
In one rural village, ABC News met 23-year-old Irina. When she was 19, she was promised her a job at a restaurant in Portugal. Instead, she was sold to into white slavery by a group of men who brought her to Dubai and forced her into the sex trade.
" They told me that I had to first study the language and then work as a prostitute," she says.
She was forced to work for a year and a half and became pregnant by one of her clients.
But Irina was lucky. She was arrested and deported to Moldova.
Thousands are still left behind, forgotten by the world and enslaved in a life of abuse.