Customers help stamp out Turkey's sex slaves

An unlikely hero has emerged in Turkey to rescue victims of forced prostitution: the brothel customer.

While the country's security forces are hardly renowned for their attention to human rights or sympathetic treatment of women, they have been chalking up impressive successes in finding and freeing trafficked women from brothels.

In the past six months, 100 women - mostly from Ukraine, Moldova, Romania or Russia - have been rescued from sex slavery and Turkish police have broken up 10 trafficking networks.

There are two reasons for these results. A charge-free hotline was set up in May by the UN's International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for women to call for help. It is staffed by multi-lingual operators who try to pinpoint where the women are - and then send in the police.

But the second, more unexpected, factor is the chivalry of the Turkish brothel client. Since the hotline started, 74 per cent of tip-offs have come from men: customers who have learned to spot the difference between a professional prostitute, and someone who's been forced into it.

"I've been very surprised," said Marielle Lindstrom, head of the IOM in Turkey. "We haven't noticed this anywhere in Europe. Turkish men seem to have an old-fashioned view of women. They don't mind using prostitutes, but they want the woman to be doing this willingly. If she's found not to be doing it willingly ... it affects their pride."

Unlike the professional Russian prostitutes, nicknamed "Natashas", who invaded casinos and clubs of holiday resorts in the 1990s, the trafficked women are not migrant sex workers.

Typically, they have been tricked into thinking they are coming to better-paid jobs. "I was told that someone named Veysel would meet me at Antalya airport and take me to my new job," one 31-year-old Moldovan woman told her rescuers. "Instead he took my passport and took me to a village. They put a gun to my head and threatened me, and then beat me. They told me if I didn't consent, they would kill me. They kept me locked in the house and brought customers to me."

The hotline is publicised in two ways: passport officials at borders and airports slip an information leaflet into the passports of women from high-risk countries; and a Russian language advert has been playing on Turkish television stations.

"Turkey respects your rights," it says. "If anyone takes away your passport, your freedom, or forces you to perform work of any kind without pay, call the helpline 157, free of charge. Any time, any phone."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Digital Marketing Executive

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

AX Developer With EPOS Experience

£450 - £500 per day: Progressive Recruitment: Dynamics AX / Developer / AX2012...

Senior Analyst - ALM Data - Banking - Halifax

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Analyst, ALM Data, Halifax, ...

Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/day

£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/d...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz