Tens of thousands of Eastern European women are falling victim to the Balkan sex trade. The Albanian Mafia has become very powerful because it is very proficient at smuggling people.
The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) conducted an undercover investigation last year into people smuggling and the sex trafficking of women in the Balkans. Indications are that the situation in the Balkans hasn't changed much. Some excerpts from their investigative report:
Save the Children reported in 2001 that "in remote areas (of Albanian), where pupils may have to walk for over an hour to get to school, research has discovered that as many as 90 percent of girls no longer receive a high school education". One of the main factors was parents' concern that their children would be abducted on the way to class.
People smuggling has become so endemic in Albania that even the police are implicated. During the first five months of 2002, 102 officers were identified as being involved in the trade following a major police crackdown that was prompted by international pressure to stem the tide of girls reaching Europe. Sixteen of the suspects have been jailed, 12 transferred to other jobs and 15 given minor punishments, according to the Albanian interior ministry.
The extent of human trafficking from Albania is revealed in a secret internal government report seen by IWPR. According to the document, more than 100,000 Albanians were smuggled out of the country between 1993-2001. How many have ended up as prostitutes across Europe is hard to establish. But evidence from the streets tells its own story. According to (International Organization for Migration) IOM's 2001 survey, the majority of prostitutes in London's Soho area are either from Albania or Kosovo.
Trading in Misery [IWPR]
Trafficking of women: the Balkan Red Road [terrelibere.it]