Turkey's Steps Up Efforts to Combat Sex Trafficking
Thursday, February 16, 2006 5:00 PM

Turkey has received attention as one of the largest markets for the illicit sex trafficking of women from former Soviet states, with 5,000 women estimated to be working as sex slaves in the country. The women, usually between the ages of 18 and 24, are mostly from Moldova and the Ukraine and are lured into Turkey with false promises of jobs as waitresses or dancers. Once in Turkey, their passports are confiscated, the women raped and beaten. Nearly one-third of these women are mothers of small children.

The Ankara bureau of the International Organization for Migration has launched an awareness campaign appealing to the high importance Turkish society places on family. A recent television commercial features four children left behind in Moldova, begging in broken Turkish for their mothers. Turkey has also set up free telephone help lines, hoping clients will provide information so that the authorities can locate and rescue these women. Last year 52 women were rescued from calls to these help-lines, and over two-thirds of the callers were clients.

Despite Turkey’s efforts to combat sex-trafficking, the United States has slashed funding for the program citing financial strain. However, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara observes, “we get so much return on our program in Turkey, which is why we would like to continue our support.”

Compiled from: Amberin Zaman, “Sex Trafficking Plagues Turkey,” Los Angeles Times, 1 February 2006.