Media Room - News at July, 2005




Sabah Newspaper - July 2, 2005


Sabah Newspaper
Zülfikar Ali AYDIN - Ahu BOZLAR - Ceren AKDAĞ

    Aksaray the buffer zone

    This place is in between two districts; the edges of Fatih and Eminönü. Women working at night manage to escape from the police by hanging around between these two regions.

    I went out for a tour at night in Aksaray. Though not like Las Vegas, it had an interesting atmosphere with its flashy lights. When it comes to giving a tip, you become cheap; regardless of the incredible bill you have paid. That is what I did after paying 290 YTL and I went to Rosya. The number of foreign women inside was twice of men. As I sit on a table, I noticed that 8 women were smiling at me.

     I started wandering in the streets. The women traffickers were wearing the same trousers and shirts, as if they had prearranged it. Even if you are going to ISKI to pay your water bill, you can be asked: "Do you want fun?", "You need an ambiance?" or "Which one of 15 year olds, Romanian. Moldovan or Bulgarian?". If you happen to say that you were only there to pay your water bill, they say "when I say girls, I mean virgins!"

     It is around midnight when women markets are set up in the streets of Aksaray. The road, where the market is set up, is the at the edge point of Eminönü, the most crowded district of Istanbul, and Fatih, 30 meters away from the Security Directorate.

     In this situation, the police were debating on who would intervene to this road. In fact, it is told that, when Fatih police came prostitutes would cross to the other side of the road, and when Eminönü police came, they would cross to the other side and wave hands to the police. In this respect, it looks like buffer zones under the jurisdiction of the UN. Only UN forces are missing!

    100 for a night, 20.000 for the season

    Apart from "overnight" women, there are also "seasonal" women sale in the Çömlekçi neighborhood of Trabzon. Buyers coming from various regions, mainly Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya, Bodrum and Marmaris, purchase the woman they like with her passport in return for 15.000-20.000 dollars. Sometimes buyers, who purchase 5-6 women at the same time, force them to work in their region, until their time expires. These women, also served as "room service" to rich customers in luxurious hotels, are kept in penthouses by rich men in Trabzon. They bring a new one when bored. These organized people resort to fake marriages in order to make them work. Trying to convert them to Turkish, they marry off the women with mentally ill, old or even dead people.

    INSTANCES OF BRIBERY

    Gültekin Yücesan, the head of the Trabzon Human Rights Association, underlines that a woman from the US embassy was in charge of investigations in Trabzon and Rize and she had reported Turkey as a third world country engaged in woman trafficking. Yücesan mentioned that he started to resort to the police because of the uncivilized manner towards these women, whose money and passports are taken away from. He adds that the US has constantly sent people to Trabzon, to make observations. There were also instances of bribery where gendarme and top-level police officers were involved in Trabzon, the center of prostitution. A colonel and a police chief were removed from office and were tried, because of bribery.

    Just like the secret service

    Threatened 157 helpline employees keep their ID's confidential.

    For the first time in the world, a telephone line is established in Turkey, in order to save foreign women, who are forced to work in the prostitution sector. The 157 helpline operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, can be reached from every part of Turkey. Professionals from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), responds in Russian, Romanian, English and Turkish. Women who fear to go to the police are given a way out. The helpline gives the addresses of women under serious risk to police or gendarme. Criminal organizations that profit from these women threaten the 157, because they undergo a loss with every woman they lose. The ID's and the place of the operators, who are threatened, are kept confidential. The operators keep this risky business and the recorded telephone numbers confidential. Under the supervision of IOM, the rescued women rescued are put on planes; they are welcomed by non-governmental organizations in their countries and handed in to their families.





Sabah Newspaper - July 1, 2005


Sabah Newspaper
Zülfikar Ali AYDIN - Ahu BOZLAR - Ceren AKDAĞ

    Waiting to be sold

    Trabzon Çömlekçi...'Modern Slaves' that are forced into prostitution are waiting for their new owners! Season Price 15-20.000 USD

    Çömlekçi... the prostitution region of Trabzon...This is the region where women are brought from abroad and their passports and money are confiscated and sold as a furniture. This selling is an open affair...One night price is 100 USD and the season price is 15-20.000 USD... The investment in the region is also parallel to the prostitution sector: the number of the hotels rose from 6 to 37 in recent times.

    Prostitution center Çömlekçi

    The oldest district of Trabzon; Çömlekçi is used as the center of prostitution. Women are brought to Turkey by Russian and Turkish organized criminal organizations. There are restaurants and hotels that are used for prostitution. The price of these women is 15.000-20.000 dollars for a season or 100 dollars a night.

    With the disintegration of the Soviet Union prostitutes created a prostitution market in Turkey. Most of these women enter Turkey through Trabzon and they initially gather in hotels in Çömlekçi, then they are sent to different cities all over Turkey. Wholesale and retail options are available and trillions change hands a night. The average price of these women per a night is 100 dollars and these women sent mostly to Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya, Bodrum and Marmaris are sold for 15-20000 dollars for a season. Some people buy 5 or 6 women and force them to work for the season. These women are brought by the joint effort of Russian and Turkish criminal organizations, and their passports are confiscated. 10 hotels were closed down because of prostitution, but they are re-opened with different names. Since 1996 16 big operations are done in the neighborhood.

    From suitcase trade to prostitution

    There were only 6 hotels in Çömlekçi town up to 1989, when prostitutes first started to come to Trabzon, whereas today there are 37 hotels. The number of restaurants increased from 4 to 45. Also there are a huge number of murders because of these women in town. 2 years ago a representative of the American Embassy in Ankara came and in his research he conducted in Trabzon, Turkey is shown as one of the `3rd world countries trafficking women`. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Sarp border gate is opened and thousands of unemployed university graduates poured into the Karadeniz region. Women, who initially engaged in suitcase trading in Russian markets they established in the region, changed their sector to prostitution after a while, in accordance with the demand. From this moment on they were named as "Natasha"s. Soon the mafia realized the big money these Russian women had earned. The prostitution sector grew in a very short time with the joint action of Russian and Turkish criminal organizations.

    TURKS AND RUSSIANS WORK TOGETHER

    The mafia takes care of everything for the women they work with, as the prostitution sector is under control of the Russian and Turkish criminal organizations. There a couple of ways to bring women to Turkey, mostly brought by these organizations. In this respect, the Russians send the women and the Turkish wing welcomes them as soon as they enter the country. Keeping them under control, they do not let women work by themselves. Moreover, Turkish criminal organizations force these women to work as waitresses, clerks and babysitters, by confiscating their passports, preventing them from leaving the country. Women, most of which come to Trabzon, settle in Çömlekçi, one of its oldest districts. Wholesale and retail options are available and trillions change hands a night. There are hundreds of craftsmen working for the prostitution sector today, whereas there were only 20 until 1998.

    PEAK IN NUMBER OF HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS

    Today there are 37 hotels in the neighborhood, where there were only 6 in the year 1998. While the number of hotels rose to 15 from 4, 30 "köfteci"s has opened. There are tens of cafeterias where women are presented in sexy clothes and then sold for at least 100 dollars a night. It is mentioned that 10 hotels were re-opened, after being closed because of prostitution. Since 1996 16 big operations are done in the neighborhood.

    NO ALCHOHOL, 30 MILLION FOR A COKE

    There are people even coming from distant places to be with prostitutes. Firstly, customers go to a cafeteria and sit on an empty table. After choosing one of the beautiful women around, he invites her to his table. The customer is forced to pay 30 million Liras for a coke in these cafeterias, where alcohol is not served and they are obliged to drink something.

    END OF THE NIGHT IN THE HOTEL...

    After ordering coke, they start negotiating. Average price for a night is 100 dollars. If the man agrees, he can take the woman out by paying the money there. But the night does not end here. Before going to the hotel, the woman eats at a restaurant for sure. Then she makes him take her to a bar or a disco. The final part ends in the hotel.

    Stories are always the same: I had come to work

    These women come to Turkey when poorness becomes intolerable. The rest is known: They fall trap to prostitution.

    I am in a night club in Aksaray, where women are sold. The table I was sitting on with a friend is suddenly adorned with food. Then came in tall, blonde women, aged between 17 and 25. From that moment on a bargaining ceremony started in the place, men getting up and sitting down again and again. I figured out what the ceremony was about thanks to my friend experienced about Aksaray: You ask the price to the woman you like. Generally it is 100 dollars. If you find it expensive you get up ten minutes later and ask for a price once again. Usually the price does not change. So you go and ask again every ten minutes.

    TOWARS THE DANCE FLOOR

    This is why there is customer traffic between the dance floor and the table. I witnessed that the bargaining would start in dollars and end up in Turkish Liras. In the coming hours, a mustached man managed to bring down 100 dollars to 110 Turkish Liras. Except for the 70 million-hotel price of course… When I found out that these women, who were teasing the people around with there ultra-mini skirts, are good bargainers, I chose one and went next to her. My intention was to invite her to the table and get a story. Just as she came over to the table, the waiters brought blond Mirabella's Malibu without even asking. And I thought Malibu was only a bar in Aksaray. Mirabella told about her life story, with her poor Turkish. "I was studying biology in Moldova State University. I could not find a job after a graduated. I came to Turkey for babysitting. Then I got here. My father was a teacher. Turkey is very nice." Mirabella was bored of the question "how are you working?" and said "100 dollars". As I knew she was a good bargainer, I said "Too much" 70 YTL. I asked for the check. I read the bill, it said 290 YTL, I asked the waiter what this meant, he said "Credit card is ok". I had learnt what this meant during my discovery tour: "Do not object to the bill. Since you have come here, you do have a credit card even if you do not have cash. Or we will take you to the guesthouse".

    ACCOMODATION IN THE GUEST HOUSE

    What about the guesthouse? Erdal T., who has seen the guesthouse, tells about it: "I brought my friend to have fun for business purposes. We drank two "raki"s and ordered some hors d'oeuvres. I objected to the 1400 YTL bill. He said "Credit card is ok.", I objected again. The security at the door came. They took us to the place they call "the guesthouse". Once the man standing behind the table cursed, the waiters started to kick me. They took my credit card, my necklace; which was a gift from my mother, and my bracelet. They were kicking my legs all the time. Then I called a friend. I paid 900 YTL, I took back the necklace, but I saved myself with the money he brought".

    Shut in a house and tortured

    3 children rescued through 157 Helpline tell about their mother: I came promised a job. But I was tortured and sexually exploited

    The shuddering findings of the International Organization for Migration under United Nations, verify the article in last week's New York Times. According to IOM, 50% of women deceived and brought to Turkey from Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, are between the ages of 19 and 25. There are 62 trafficking cases last year and 97 this year. However; these figures do not comprise those who came voluntarily to Turkey and work in the prostitution sector, but those whose passports are confiscated, forced to work by guns and threats. 40% of these women who generally come from Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Russia, are forced to work in Istanbul and the rest, in cities like Antalya and Ankara. Most of them are imprisoned in houses. For women who are afraid to go to police, suicide is the way to escape. Their end is either paralysis or death. The most striking example is the 17 year old Ukrainian girl who jumped out from the house she was shut up. IOM took care of the girl who would be paralyzed the rest of her life.

    The story of women rescued by 157 Helpline and returned to their home countries:

    1- STORY: A MOLDOVAN WOMAN

    "X", the mother of three, accepts her friends offer to work in Turkey when she could not support her family. She finds herself in a country house in Antalya. Her passport is taken. "X", who does not accept prostitution, is beat and threatened with a gun. Starting to have sex for money, she is not let outside the house. One day when she was took to a customer in a hotel; she calls the helpline that she saw in Moldova. And they direct her to the "157 Helpline". Operators call the Antalya 155 and she is rescued. After staying at the shelter in Istanbul for a while, "X" is sent home.

    The story of women rescued by 157 Helpline and returned to their home countries:

    2- STORY: A ROMANIAN VICTIM

     "Y", a cook, can not support herself. She signs a contract in Turkey to work in a night club. She is told to work in the prostitution sector. Even the cigarettes "Y" has smoked are written as debt. She is not let to go home. She calls the 157 she had seen at the Turkish Embassy that she went to get a visa and in the brochures at the airport. "Y" is rescued with 8 other people. However, others do not want to go home without money and do not file complaints as they are scared. "Y" returns home after staying in the shelter in Istanbul.

    The aim is to help victims

    The head of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Consular Affairs Department Iskender Okyay explains the main idea of the 157 helpline: "Women, who are deceived, brought to Turkey and forced to work under difficult situations, are victimized. Our aim is to help these victims." Okyay says" those who work in this sector are seen as criminals. However; they may be victimized". Telling about the trainings for the police and gendarme to help these women, in cooperation with non-governmental organizxations, Okyay emphasizes that every unit has some responsibilities.

    Leaflets are distributed at the airports

    Until now, 14 women are rescued through the 157 helpline that is established in order to rescue foreign women subjected to sexual exploitation. Criminal organizations trafficking humans are also revealed. In Trabzon, Antalya, Izmir and Istanbul airports, brochures about 157 Helpline are distributed.





Tercüman Newspaper - July 1, 2005


Tercüman Newspaper
Erhan ÖZTÜRK

    'I'm in danger.' Help Line

    85 women rescued by 157 Help Line that was established for the foreign women that are forced into prostitution. Help Line has Russian, Romenian speaking operators.

    Help Line had 10.000 telephone calls

     From 'Alo 157' campaign, IOM representative Selin Unal is together with one of the victims of trafficking that was rescued by the 157 Help Line, which has had 10.000 calls until now. Unal is giving the ticket to her who comes from Common Wealth of Independent States and she returns to her home after the psychological and medical support. There are movie clip of 157 in foreign televisions.

     The 157 helpline, lead by IOM, supported with security and place space by Ankara and financially by the USA, made a heavy blow to human trafficking. Russian, Romanian and English speaking counselors serve lumbered lives for one month.

    The raids in İstanbul, Antalya

     The kidnapped women, coming to Turkey to work from Russia, Romania and Commonwealth of Independent States, are forced to prostitution. Upon their cries '157 Helpline, Rescue us', security units made rescue operations in 8 cities. 85 tears were stopped.

    Presentation of brochures at the border

     The authorities said that the foreigners get acquainted with 157 at the border gates with the distribution of brochures. The rescued people is sent back home if they want to.

    Alo 157 Promogi 85(foreign nation) women that are forced into prostitution, rescued by a telephone call Turkiye creates a miracle by the cooperation of IOM, they create '157 Help Line'. The women, that are forced into prostitution, call this help line and IOM helps them in Russian, Romenian, English and Turkish.

     -IOM helps women whose passports, money are confisgated by traffickers in order to prevent them to return their home. IOM provides the document, tickets and their safety return to their homes. (under the picture of Selin with a tourist)-

     A phone-call rain occurred about Helpline 157 which was established in Ankara for forced women to be prostitutes. Approximately ten thousand phone-calls have come to this line since 23rd May. Organized crime gangs are confiscating passports of women who come from Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, etc. and who are between 16-35 years old. 85 women have been rescued up to now with 157 Helpline. The project is supported by US Government with 700.000$ and is implemented with coordination with Turkish Government. Professional consultants and operators are working with Russian, Romanian, Turkish and English for 157 Helpline which was established with the leadership of International Organization for Migration (IOM). 85 women coming from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Romania, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, have been rescued and sent to their countries.

    They are forced to be prostitutes in their sixteen

     Actually, this number is the number of women that IOM reached. A film was prepared for 157 Helpline promotion and reaching more women. 157 Helpline promotion film is being shown in Russia, Ukraine and Moldova. Moreover, the activities has been started to show the film in Eastern European countries. In these countries, brochures are being distributed and information is given to women who came to consulate for visa operations.

     There are professional consultants who know Russian, Romanian, Turkish and English in center office in Ankara. They determine if calling person is in danger or not, and they communicate with police and gendarme. 16 of 85 victim are under 18 years old and 50 of them are between 19-25. Psychological, medical and direct assistance to these women are targeted with this Helpline.

    Financer is USA

     157 Helpline, which is funded by USA, is being controlled and monitored by International Organization for Migration. Authorities said: "Turkey is a transit point for trafficking, kidnapping and using children and women for sexual exploitation. International Organization for Migration (IOM), which opened its first office in Turkey after Gulf War in 1991, tries to reach women who comes from Moldova, Ukraine and Romania, etc. to have job in Turkey and are forced to work for crime gangs. 157 Helpline has been activated for that point. Medical, psychological and direct assistance are provided to children and women with this campaign. 157 Helpline, which is funded by USA with 700.000$ and is implemented by coordination of Turkish Government, provided rescuing of 85 women generally and 5 women form traffickers in last month.

    24 hours a day, 7 days a week

     Selin Unal, from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that IOM is in cooperation with the Turkish government in order to prevent human trafficking, which IOM labels as the "modern slavery". Ünal said "The helpline, which is advertised through leaflets in Turkish, English and Rumanian, has an annual budget of 700.000 $ funded by the US. The victims, who can call the 157 Helpline 7 days a week 24 hours a day, are directed to the police or the gendarme by the IOM personnel on the line."

     Ünal mentioned that 266 human trafficking victims were reached the previous year, through the campaign introduced in the border gates at the Atatürk, Antalya and Trabzon airports. Ünal added that the 157 Helpline operated by IOM will be handed over to a non-governmental organization based in Turkey.

    Turkey, the last stop

     IOM Chief of Mission Marielle Sander-Lindstrom thanked to the police department when talking about the cooperation with Turkish authorities.

     Authorities mentioned that Turkey was a transit point as well as the last stop for women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation. According to statistics, most victims of human trafficking come from Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Romania, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Belarus. Selin Unal stated that 95 foreign women were identified, who were trafficked in order to be employed in the prostitution sector. She emphasized that this number only indicated the amount that the organization could reach.

    Information is kept confidential

     The IOM Ankara staff has confronted 90 cases from the incoming calls that fall into the area of "human trafficking". Action was taken for 12 of these; 5 women were rescued with the help of the police department, by forwarding the necessary information. One Ukrainian and one Moldovan woman were sent to their countries. 12 foreign women who called a couple of days ago and identified to be kept in a house, is trying to be rescued.

    Modern slavery will be prevented

     The collaboration of Turkey and IOM in the aftermath of 1991 Gulf War, aimed to prevent human trafficking, by training law enforcement personnel and helping the victims of human trafficking directly. Within the context of project, potential victims of human trafficking are informed at the key points in the border gates. IOM is active in areas such as emergency help, resettlement of refugees, assisting voluntary return, sending money, supporting migrant health and promoting legal migration options. As an intergovernmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, IOM is composed of 190 member states composed of developed and developing countries.

    The dream of money ended with disappointment

     My real job is cookery. I am a Romanian. Our economic condition was not sufficient. In Romania, I signed a contract in order to be a dancer in a Turkish night club. It is written that the all expenses for traveling to Turkey and for accommodation would be covered by employer. I came to Turkey but I was said to be indebted. When I asked what my debt was, I was listed the travel to Turkey, accommodation, medical expenditures and even including the cigarettes I smoked. They told me to work as a hostess to pay my debt. I refused it and thought that it was a violation of human rights. I wanted to return home. They did not let me go. I did not have any money to go back home either. When I had gone to the Turkish embassy in Romania to take a visa, they gave me a leaflet introducing the 157 helpline. I immediately called the 157 helpline. 8 women including me were rescued through the coordination of the telephone operators with the police, from the address that I gave. Other 8 women did not want to file a complaint against their employers, expecting to take their money, since they did not want to return with empty hands to their children and old families who waited them. Only I could go to my country with the help of the International Organization of Migration. I am grateful to everyone helping me, including all 157 helpline employees and the Turkish police.

    The grievous story of 2 rescued women

    I fell prey to my friend

     I was born in 1974 in Moldova. I have two children. My friend offered to earn 2000 dollars a day in Turkey. I accepted my friend's offer without thinking and came to Turkey unaware of what would happen. My friend had arranged all of the expenses, the airline ticket and the passport. A person named Veysel took me to a country house from Antalya Airport. They took my passport by force. A Moldavian woman welcomed me at the house. She told me that I was brought here to be employed in the prostitution sector in Turkey. However, when I refused it and told them that I wanted to go back, they pointed a gun to my head. They beat, threatened me, I was oppressed in every ways and they told me that I had no any chance and otherwise they would kill me. The customers were coming to the country house.

     I found the opportunity of escape when the woman brought me to a customer in a hotel. I called 157 and stated my condition and address to the telephone operators. After the operators' notice to 155 Antalya Police, Turkish police rescued me. The IOM authorities not only bought my airline ticket but also completed the necessary travel documents. With the coordination of Moldova IOM office, I was returned to my mother and children, my only desire.


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