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Turkmens for sale, bids starting at $2200

Photograph courtesy of the Chronicles of Turkmenistan.  Click on the image to read their article.

Photograph courtesy of the Chronicles of Turkmenistan. Click on the image to read their article.

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!

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  • Turgai Sangar says:

    Well, indeed nothing new except maybe that Turkmenistan is not mentioned very often in reports about the phenomenon in part because the regime indeed covered it up and kept it taboo for a long time.

    Sad indeed yet personally, I don’t buy into the classical tearjerker of poor innocent women being lured in the trade that we get dished up regularly. Most know very well what they are going to do abroad and in fact many are already doing it at home. Poverty does plays its role of course yet beyond that it is more a matter of a mentality that makes on receptive for this: the easy money and glamour attitude and the overall social desintegration and depravity that affects these societies. One of the many brilliant outcomes of the neo-liberal Brave New World in short.

    Same in terms of depravity on the demand side.


    Terry Reply:

    @Turgai Sangar,

    Yes, they are doing it at home. Having worked in the gas plants, we were provided with so called party girls at the camps whenever we wanted. The women did not care if we were married, thinking we might leave our wives and marry them. Unfortunately some of us were stupid enough to fall into the trap and now we’re stuck with them and even more miserable then we were when married to our north american women.

    Men should realize that the reason the women do whatever the man wants sexually, is so that he’ll marry her and she won’t have to do it anymore.


  • Nicolas says:

    Really? Blame the victim rather than the society? 2200 dollars is roughly the average annual income of a Turkman. Glamour you say? Like food hot bathes electricity and Internet access? An American from a small town is lured to the “Big City” to alleviate boredom and they may well do things that they Morally they wouldn’t normally consider or they may think that the moral consequence is the price of admission.
    The girls willing to do this are attracted to the idea of a way out of there current circumstance. They actually feel that slavery or a loveless marriage is better than the unstable uncertain future that is promised them by their current lot in life.
    Don’t scoff at their hope, instead condemn the society in which hope comes at such a great price.


    Medina Reply:

    @Nicolas, In adition certain South American countries are struggling from the poverty worster than Turkmenistan, actually been living in Ashgabat for 17 years never seen the the hunger, lack of water or a massive social problem like homelessness… Attention guys, you now can come down and stop pretending to be the citizens of perfect nations.Bullocks!!! Name the country where there is no prostitution.. Stop criticising my country get along with the fact that our independency is 22 years old!!! Don’t visit for work and travel those countries which you are intentionally going to humiliate, I’m sure there are so many bright and positive sides to tell about Turkmenistan…


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