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Georgian Slaves in Greece (Part I)

19.10.2006
Georgian Women Trafficked in Turkey Appeared in Greece

saberznetis_sazrvari.gif“Two young women froze to death in the Turkish woods and died. One fell into a ravine.  We were initially tortured in a Greek prison and then raped”

Special interview from Greece

We reached the Greek city of Alexandroupoli after a 27-day trip through the rain and snow. Before that, we had been sold twice in Trabzon and Istanbul by Georgians. We, girls of ages 20 to 30, were forced to provide sexual favors to 60-year-old Turkish men. ….The most terrible [part of the trip] was the distance between Istanbul and the Greek border -- woods, rocks, narrow paths, lakes, and intolerable cold.  Two young women froze to death in the Turkish woods, and we buried them there. One of us fell into the ravine…”
 
Twenty-three-year-old Maia decided to go to Greece after her father died.

“My family was starving.  My mother was disabled, and my brother, a student in the seventh grade, needed to be cared for.  I did my best to find a job in Tbilisi, but nobody hired me. The only reason was my lack of an education.  The only offer I received was a position as a servant at a hotel, but I did not accept it.”

“At that time, I came across Zura, who promised to take me to an organization that would send me abroad to work.  Initially, I refused because I could not leave my family.  When my mother learned about [my plans], she cried and begged me not to go abroad.  She said that she would work as a servant so that I would not need to emigrate.  My mother could not work -- she was too ill.”

Journalist: And you accepted Zaza’s proposal?

“I had no other way out.  Zaza took me to a person named Shalva, who met us in one of the apartment sections near the Didube Metro Station.  He [already] knew of my decision, so we immediately got down to business.  He said that I was to pay 2,500 dollars to him if I wanted to go to Greece and get a job with the help of his partners.  If I could not pay the money immediately, I could pay half of it then and the rest in Greece, after I began working.”

“[Shalva] spoke so convincingly.  He even called somebody in Greece and said that he was sending a good girl, and he asked him to line up a nurses job before I arrived.  We agreed on everything, so I sold all of our family jewelry and borrowed some money from my mother’s relatives in the village, which amounted to 1,150 dollars.  I met Shalva a week later. I got a passport, and Zaza helped me obtain a Turkish visa.”

Journalist: But how could you travel to Greece with a Turkish visa?

“Shalva told me that I would be accompanied by his agent and some more girls and that there would be no problems along the way.  He said that his Turkish friends would meet us in Istanbul and take care of us. Then we would be taken by car to Greece.  We left Tbilisi at noon on December 14, 2000 from the Ortachala Auto Station and arrived in Batumi at midnight, but we did not go to the border, yet.  The people on the bus said they had some contacts in the customs office and that we would cross the border when they took their night shift.”

On the way from Tbilisi to Trabzon

“We reached the Sarfi customs post at six in the morning.  We did not stay there for long.… The bus stopped next in Trabzon.  [By then,] it was a day.  We were told to get off the bus and drink some tea.  The man who had introduced himself as Nugzari and remained with the driver ordered the six [of us] to sit at the same table.”

“Twenty-year-old Thea was the youngest of us; the oldest was a 31-year-old woman.  We were drinking tea.  Nugzari came up to us and said the rooms at the hotel were not yet booked as Shalva had promised in Tbilisi.  Consequently, we had to stay in Trabzon until everything was taken care of.”

“In the evening we were taken to a house in the suburbs [of Trabzon].  The house was comfortable. We had supper and went to bed.  The next day, some Turkish woman woke us up and ushered us downstairs, where somebody was waiting for us.  [We saw] some other people besides Nugzari, including a woman speaking Georgian.”

“They examined us like buyers.  We became suspicious, but because we were not alone, we were not scared.  We relied on each other.  Soon the Georgian-speaking woman told us to leave the room.  Nugzari took our passports and what little money we had, saying he would prepare some documents for our trip to Greece.”

“Quite truthfully, the young women with us were not very honest and were too friendly with the Turkish men – they spent a good evening with them.  I was alone and sad… It was a real torture and nothing more (the respondent sighed deeply)…”

“The next day the young men were replaced by old Turkish men.  We inquired about Nugzari, but he was nowhere to be found.  The hostess explained to us that he had left and would be back soon.  We were forced to provide sexual favors to the [Turkish men].  We were shouting, but they made us keep quiet.  They were throwing money on the bed.  They beat us cruelly if we resisted.”

“Nugzari did not appear the next day, either.  We could not leave the house because we had no passports on us.  We had no money to arrange something [if we escaped], nor did we know the language.  We did not want to turn ourselves over to the police.  Something kept us from doing so.  Several of us had debts.  The others did not want to return to Georgia without money, etc.”

“We spent four days in Trabzon.  It was a complete disaster… I cannot express the feeling. On the fifth day the Georgian woman came and brought [us our] passports.  We ran up to her and began arguing.  I don’t remember who grabbed her first.  We wanted to get our passports back from her.  She fell down, and if the Turks hadn’t helped her, we would have likely killed her.  She said she was innocent, and she threatened to tear up our passports.  We would then be unable to do anything.  We did not know what to do because of our anger and bitterness.  We were confused and finally agreed that Manana should take us to Istanbul, but it would have been better if we had not gone.”


Gela Mtivlishvili, Greece

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