According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), approximately 4,000 citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic are sold into slavery annually. Men are often sold to Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine to work on construction sites, agricultural plantations and farms, and young women are sent to brothels in Germany, Greece, Cyprus, China, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Turkey and South Korea. Recently, according to the NGO "Girlfriend" has become a popular route in the direction of western China. Very often, even ten-year-old girls become the subject of sex trafficking, especially from remote mountain villages. Sex trade brings much more profit than other types of modern slave trade.
Recently, a new type of traffic from Kyrgyzstan has emerged - obtaining refugee status in Western European countries. This is what the young woman said, who categorically refused to give her name: “I have long wanted to leave the country, for which I appealed to a travel agency, where I was told that I needed $ 700 to buy a ticket and issue the necessary documents. A young couple with a young son were supposed to fly with me. We were to be met at the Prague airport and transported to a refugee camp. On the way, we had to “lose” the documents in order to stay there and get refugee status. ”
According to IOM, only the German Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic opens up to 14,000 visas. It is noteworthy that more than 30% of applicants for a Schengen visa are women. At the end of February 2005, a government scandal broke out in Germany, which has not ceased until now. Representatives of the Green Party accused the German Foreign Ministry of illegally issuing Schengen visas. In Kyrgyzstan, the main target of charges of aiding the modern slave trade were travel companies, which, according to IOM experts, “may become involuntary links in the slave trade chain.”
According to official data, the number of women who left Kyrgyzstan in 1999 was more than 8,000, more than 2/3 of them left for the CIS countries, and the rest - in foreign countries. It is extremely difficult to compile a complete and real picture, since the sex industry is the most profitable structure in the modern slave trade system and the most carefully concealed, as representatives of the police and customs, border guards, and visa departments in embassies are involved in it. If, however, some fact of the slave trade becomes public, then, according to Elmira Shishkaraeva, Winrock International’s program manager - “traffic victims are turned from witnesses to accused of illegally crossing the border, forging documents, and violations of registration conditions”. The whole struggle against the modern slave trade is carried out exclusively at the level of detention of traffic victims, and not its customers.
As Natalia Shumskaya, an expert on traffic issues, told us: “The authorities of the Gulf countries are extremely difficult and reluctant to make contact, categorically believing that all this is solely a problem of those countries where you come from a woman.” Shishkareva also says that “many Kyrgyz police officers believe that if someone became a slave, it was because he was guilty of something.”
The Fergana feature of the modern slave trade is the existence of so-called slave markets in the Jalalabat and Batken regions. Here, near the interstate borders are citizens of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in anticipation of work. The vast majority of people standing along the roads, at any time of the year, are women of all ages and children. Mostly they are hired to work for someone in the house or for agricultural work. For the whole day, they can earn from 25 to 50 US cents, but there are cases when people only work for food and clothing. Often hired at the time of weddings and other lush family celebrations, when you need to serve up to 500 people per day. Naturally, the whole work is completely manual, without the help of household appliances.
The local branch of IOM is one of the ways to solve the problem, considering the introduction of changes to the current Criminal and Administrative Code of the Kyrgyz Republic. Especially in the part where there is a process of licensing the tourism business.
In the meantime, the first and only case of bringing to justice those involved in human trafficking was recorded in October 2003, when the young man was sentenced to five years in prison for involvement in the modern slave trade.