Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Romania: Undercover Investigation in Sex Trade

Chris Rogers, the award-winning journalist
who went undercover to investigate human trafficking

IASI, ROMANIA - This is the story of Monica; she is fourteen. These hidden camera images show her being sold to a London prostitute ring by her Romanian pimps. She is 14. Chris Rogers spent seven months charting how the girls' journey begin.

The taxi driver drops us outside a petrol station on a busy road. I start swigging whisky and smoking, trying to look the part.

Anything to avoid suspicion. I'm in Iasi, northeast Romania, filming undercover for an ITV News At Ten investigation.

Tonight I'm planning to do business with the gangs that sell and traffic young women. I am going to buy a sex slave.

I approach two hard-looking women in their late thirties on the petrol station forecourt.

They are wrapped in fur coats to survive on the freezing streets. They don't seem surprised to see a foreigner here.

They beckon me towards them, out of sight of the CCTV cameras. Police cars drive past – it must be obvious what's going on, but I've been told officers simply turn a blind eye.

It is so poor here that the trade in humans is commonplace.

Young girls are prostituted on the streets until they are conditioned enough to be sold on.

As I was to find out, girls are often sold or leased from gang to gang and country to country.

The women are pimping a young girl called Monica.

I ask if she is for sale.

"Yes," one of the women tells me.

"You can take her for one hour, a night or a week, it's up to you." Monica's little face pokes between the two of them. She is pretty but looks worn. Her hair is greasy and tangled, her skin dirty and bruised...


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