This story was collected from seven young Ukrainian girls aged between 15 and 21, who were trafficked to Turkey. Two of them are university students and the others are high school students and graduates.
The girls made the following statement:
“We were attending model classes at one agency in our small town in Ukraine with our own means. We were being trained how to be a model. Some time later, we were told that we were going to do fashion shows abroad.”
“One day our manager told us that there would be a fashion event in Turkey and started preparing us. The preparation took several weeks. We were informed that the show was going to take place in Istanbul. He also told us that we were going to earn $1000 per month. We trusted our manager and the prospect of the journey and expensive clothes we were going to wear exited us. He promised us exactly the kind of job and status we were dreaming about – big city, money and fashion. We did not have any clue that he had other plans for us.”
“We went by bus from our small town to Odessa, where we boarded a ferry to Istanbul. Upon arrival, our dreams crashed against the reality: we had to pay back our debt – money paid for the travel, accommodation, food and clothes. We were told that we were going to work as bar-girls in a night club. Our passports were taken away.”
“The next day our manager brought us to one of the night clubs in Istanbul. However, the club manager did not accept to employ us, as the majority of our group consisted of minors. The second day, our manager drove us to Izmir to another night club. We were immediately accepted and our job was to entertain clients and invite them for drinks. We had to wear light lingerie and allow them to touch us if they wished to. We were forced to work long hours and consume drinks together with clients. We were tired, intoxicated and disgusted by the job but had no choice. Although our passports were given back to us, there was no way to refuse it as we were explicitly explained that we were in illegal situation in Turkey because our visas had expired.”
“We were placed at a hotel close to the club. We were supervised round the clock and were not allowed to leave the hotel by ourselves but only accompanied. We were weak, had headaches and felt tired due to the high quantity of alcohol we had to consume during the nights. We were working 7-days a week.”
The girls including 4 minors were working in this condition in Izmir for 2 months. They were rescued by Izmir Foreign Department during an operation. The Turkish police identified them as trafficked persons. They were immediately taken to the Ankara shelter run by a Turkish NGO and provided medical, psychological and assistance. IOM arranged their safe return in coordination with source country authorities and Turkish authorities.
“Case Studies on Forced Labor,” www.countertrafficking.org