Uncovering the Sex Trade
I was interested to come across an article by Sherry Ricchiardi, "Letter from the Balkans: An Underreported Horror Story" (August/September). Ricchiardi makes some interesting points about the nature of the women-trafficking problem in the Balkans and the importance of exposing it in the local and international media.
It may interest you and Ricchiardi to learn that the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, through its long-standing Balkan Human Rights & Media Development Programme, regularly investigates, with local journalists in training, this very issue. The resulting articles are published on its award-winning Web site, www.iwpr.net, and republished throughout the Balkans press and internationally.
In January of this year, a hard-hitting investigation from Romania, "The Scourge of Human Trafficking: Freedom at Midnight," was published by IWPR. The result of detailed and dangerous work, the report also tackled the dilemma raised in your article by Croatian journalist Sasa Lekovic. IWPR's reporters did in fact, through their investigation, free a 16-year-old mentally disabled girl, who had been enslaved and prostituted since the age of 11.
A larger IWPR investigation, covering human trafficking in eight Balkan countries, will be published later this year.
Senior operations officer
Institute for War and Peace Reporting