“I just want to die!” Those are the words that were going through Natasha’s* mind when she was held in captivity as a sex slave for over a year in Germany. She came to Germany because she saw an advertisement in a Ukrainian paper that young women were needed to work in a shoe factory. At that point Natasha was a 27-year-old single mother whose husband had left her without any means of support. Ukraine was going through some tough economic times and jobs were scarce. She saw this advertisement and it was like the light at the end of a tunnel. Little did she know that it would be the worst nightmare of her life! She left her 2-year-old son with her mom and set out in hopes of a dream. When she got to Germany, her passport was taken away and she was put into a brothel where an endless string of men would visit her night after night.
Sadly, her story is not all that uncommon. When you watch movies like Taken you think, “Nah, something like this will never happen to me or to my loved ones!” But it does! Statistics show that around “two million women and children are held in sexual servitude worldwide.” Desperate parents sell their own children for a mere $30! What would make a parent take such a drastic step? It does not matter whether the child is male of female; little girls as young as 10 work in karaoke brothels and little boys become “lady-boys.” Every minute two children somewhere are prepared to become sex workers. Most of the examples of sex slavery are from poor countries like Romania, Bulgaria, my native Ukraine, Russia, Indonesia, Philippines, and so on. The easier travel across borders has made it easy for such a gritty business to flourish! But if you think that something like that would only happen anywhere else but America, think again! The documentary Cargo, Innocence Lost tells the story of the sex slave industry operating in Texas.
How do these women and children cope with lives like that? Some go insane, some drink themselves to death, and some use coping mechanisms to survive. Natasha, for example, kept a detailed diary of her life as a sex slaves addressed to her little son. She was lucky because some man took pity on her and paid off her “debt” associated with her coming to Germany. She was able to go back to Ukraine and rejoin her little son and family. But that is only one “happy ending” among the millions of really horrible ones.
*Natasha is one of the most common names in Ukraine and Russia.