Turkmens for sale, bids starting at $2200
Business and Economics, Media and Internet, Turkmenistan4 Comments
Editor’s note: Human trafficking has always been a major part of Central Asia’s economy . As long as go as the Abbasid Caliphate, Central Asians were being enslaved and exported across the world to work as prostitutes, servants, and soldiers. neweurasia’s Annasoltan reflects upon modern trends in this dark market.
According to a recent report by Jane’s Intelligence Review, persistent economic hardship and porous borders have contributed to a rise in human trafficking in Central Asia to countries like Turkey, Pakistan, Thailand, and the European Union and Gulf States. Human trafficking can have a broad definition, including various forms of forced or cheap labor the most common of which is sex work, and, of course, Central Asia’s.
You’re probably saying, “Okay, why is this news?” Well, that’s precisely the attitude Turkmenistan’s government is taking.
Figures are difficult to come by in Turkmenistan because of the closed nature of the regime. Authorities refuse to acknowledge the issue, or they prefer to demur and defer. For example, a seminar was held in Ashgabat this past August under the headline “Prevention and fight against human trafficking”. It had all the features of normality, but speaking as an attendee, it was hardly more than the government telling the international community “yes, we have held such a seminar”.
Despite the silence on the issue, we can still get a general sense of what’s going on — and it’s bad. Matthew Clements, a senior analyst with Jane’s Information Group, remarks,
As it is a region wide problem, Turkmenistan, as one of the Central Asian nations is also affected, although not quite so fairly as its neighbors.
Obviously a problem like this is not going to vanish in the air simply by denying its existence. Stories about indentured young Turkmen women have leaked into the global media. Several members of the Turkmen diaspora living in Turkey have claimed to have seen Turkmen women waving to men in busy streets of Istanbul’ s Aksaray commercial district. What’s really striking about these stories, which I will report on later here in neweurasia, is that several of the victims volunteered to be sex workers.
And the problem isn’t just international: check out this report by the Chronicles of Turkmenistan about teenage prostitutes working in the suburbs of Ashgabat itself ! The photograph attached this post, courtesy of the Chronicles, was originally posted on a Turkmen émigré information site. An eyewitness claims that the woman was openly being sold to men in the United Arab Emirates by a prostitution ring before she was transferred to Turkey. The dealers allegedly offered men to buy her as a sex slave for $2200 to make permanent use of her sex services. Think about it: a young Turkmen is worth the same amount as a high-end flatscreen/DVD/stereo entertainment center!