Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Russia: Pop Star Promises to Help Sex Slaves

Valeriya with her envoy diploma

GENEVA -- Pop star Valeriya says she is drawing on her experience as a battered wife and "slave" to help migrant workers break free of sexual exploitation and forced labor in her homeland.

Valeriya last week was formally named as goodwill envoy for the Russian Federation on behalf of the International Organization for Migration, an agency she has teamed up with for the past year to combat human trafficking.

"I meet and talk to these people," the blonde 40-year-old told a news briefing. "I am not a professional psychologist, but I am sure I can help people with my own experience as an ex-victim of slavery. I suffered a lot of domestic violence."

"I was forced to work for a man, my [former] husband, who treated me like a slave. So I feel I know the subject maybe even more than many others and am ready to help people with all my heart," she said.

Valeriya -- who only goes by her first name -- has sold 100 million CDs. She is entering the British music market, where she has been dubbed the Russian Madonna, with an English version of her album "Out of Control."

Her anti-trafficking clips already appear on Russian television, and she plans to dedicate some of her concerts around Europe next year to raising public awareness of the problem...


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