Selling Olga


By Louisa Walsh

Louise Waugh spent three years researching and writing this unflinching investigation into human trafficking across Europe. She traveled to places most infested with trafficking, talked to the women who had been trafficked and to those who support them at considerable personal risk to their own safety. Bosnia, Kosovo, northern Albania, Moldova and Sicily all had ugly stories to tell: women sold in bars, confined inside private apartments, raped to ensure obedience, beaten and degraded.

Through a particular victim, Olga, whom she meets in Moldova, we see the realities of such women’s situations and it is Olga who can explain how tied such women become to their “owners”.

“He warned me …. He said that the two men who wanted to buy me would take me to Pec or to Ferizye. Pec is a terrible place, up in the mountains. The other girls told me that if you cause trouble there, you are just shot like an animal and your body dumped outside.”

Olga had been beaten so badly that she was almost blind. Her need to sustain her young son drove her to accept bestial treatment from many men. Her hope is that she will gain a job in the Moldovan Institute for the Blind.

The great strength of this terrifying report is that the author has made contact not only with the female victims of traffickers themselves, but has also with the organizations which help them and fight for them, the police and officials from the forces (for example, UN and NATO officials dealing with the ugly complicity of their own peacekeepers). She has gone to great lengths to follow her stories through.

A particularly grim case she covers is that of the trafficker Luan Plakici, an Albanian operating in London from 1995 to 2003 before he was convicted of trafficking and sentenced to 23 years. Most shocking about Plakici’s story was how easy it was for him to carry out these acts in Britain. He was able to bind the girls to him through fear and threats (for example, to kill a young sister in another country).

Human trafficking for the sex industry and for forced labour is the world’s fastest-growing organized crime.
-Margaret Laird


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