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The International Traffic in Women.

Gillian Caldwell and Steven Galster went undercover to investigate the emerging illegal sex trade in Russia and the newly Independent States. Their findings are published in a new report by the Global Survival Network (w/theInternational League for Human Rights): "Crime & Servitude: An Expose of the Traffic in Women for Prostitution from the Newly Independent States" (for copies contact the Global Survival Network, in Washington D.C., 202-387-0028; email: The report says "Each day, thousands of women and girls are lured into the international sex trade with promises of a better life...They are transported by bus, plane, and train to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America, where they unexpectedly find themselves forced into cruel sexual exploitation."


Other segments from the episode on February 10, 1998

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, February 10, 1998: Interview with Gillian Caldwell and Steven Galster; Review of the Reptile Palace Orchestra's and Karnak's album's "Hwy X" and "Karnak."


Date: FEBRUARY 10, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 021001np.217
Head: Sex Trade Discovered in Former Communist Nations
Sect: News; International
Time: 12:06

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

The New York Times recently reported that the selling of naive and desperate young women into sexual bondage has become one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the global economy. The selling of women is particularly lucrative in Russia and the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union where women are desperate for work.

My guests Steven Galster and Gillian Caldwell led a two-year undercover investigation into the international sex trade of women from the former Soviet Union. Galster and Caldwell are the directors of the Global Survival Network, a group which investigates human rights abuses and environmental degradation around the world.

They learned that women are recruited through ads promising opportunities abroad as models, waitresses, and entertainers. But once the women are taken to their destinations, the pimps or traffickers confiscate their passports and tell the women that they owe an enormous amount in travel and living expenses. The women are forced into prostitution to pay back the money.

Galster learned about the trafficking of women while he was investigating the illegal trade in endangered species. I asked him what the connection is.

STEVEN GALSTER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE GLOBAL SURVIVAL NETWORK: Well, these were black market traders who would trade in any so-called "commodity" to make money. We were conducting some investigations into the illegal trade in Siberian tiger parts and other endangered species in the Russian Far East, and came into contact with a mafia group based in the port city of Vladivostok that had tiger skins and bones, and they were regularly shipping those off to Japan and China. And we wanted to document their involvement and how they were doing it.

And so we had to do it undercover -- conduct negotiations as though we were interested in buying. And by the time we were done talking to them, they wanted to interest us in another trade that they said would make us a lot of money, and which was in women and girls. They said they could get as many good looking girls or women as we wanted. They had done it already; were sending them to Japan. And it was at that point, we started collecting information on that illegal trade.

GROSS: So, did you play along with it?

GALSTER: Definitely. I mean, I didn't know what they were going to talk about. I thought they were going to talk about arms. And as an organization, we look at illegal trade in all sorts of things, including that. And when they mentioned women, I thought OK. I asked for more information and -- but at that point, we thought we would find a local enforcement agency or a nongovernmental organization that would take up the cause or perhaps that already was working on it and could make use of this information.

And we looked around in Vladivostok and Moscow and talked to people, and it was clear that nobody was doing it. There were individuals and, you know, human rights groups that were interested in it, but didn't want to get involved because they thought the police were complicit or wouldn't care. And they knew that the mafia was probably involved, so it was too dangerous.

And the police that we spoke to clearly didn't think it was a problem. And if it was happening, then you know, the women were getting what they deserved.

GROSS: So you ended up setting up basically a phony organization, so that you could go undercover and pose as somebody who was, in fact, interested in the trafficking in women. Would you describe the operation that you set up?

GALSTER: Well this was the only way we could have done it because the inner-workings of the trafficking networks anywhere in the world, particularly in Russia, in the former Soviet Union, all operate underground and they're not going to talk to anybody, you know, about their business or release any kind of information unless they feel that there is a potential profit to be made.

So, the trick was to set up a company that would look as though it was worth doing business with us, without in fact giving them anything. So we set up a -- we set up a front company that appeared to be dealing business in international escorts and models based out of New York City; real telephone and FAX number and address set up; developed brochures, business cards, and other things that were necessary. And as representatives of that company, we made contact with people who were recruiting women and girls in different cities in the Russian Federation and went from there; tried to climb as high as we could in the trafficking networks.

GROSS: Gillian, where did you enter the picture with this phony operation?

GILLIAN CALDWELL, CO-DIRECTOR, THE GLOBAL SURVIVAL NETWORK: Well, Steve approached me in August of 1995 -- I was working as a civil rights attorney -- and asked me to develop a grant proposal. And I resigned from my job two weeks later and started fundraising for this. And by February of '96, we were on our way to Russia to do the first month of undercover investigation.

GROSS: Now, how did you first find out who the right people were to meet with? Steven, were these people you already knew through the Russian mafia, through the endangered species trade?

GALSTER: It's -- it's rather complicated, but we found somebody who was involved in the mail order bride and marriage services. There's a lot of U.S.- and European-based companies that go to Russia looking for brides for, you know, American and European men. And somebody who was involved as a middle person in that trade, if you will, knew a lot about pimps and traffickers because they're -- even though it's not the same thing, there is a -- I don't know how you would say it, Gillian -- there's a relationship...

CALDWELL: There's a healthy relationship between the data bases of those business -- the mail order bride businesses and the trafficking networks.

GALSTER: ... so that middle person was able to introduce us to a few traffickers. And we simply climbed the ladder from there. We tried going up as high as we could to people higher up in those mafia groups that were trading in women and other things.

GROSS: So what would you specifically say to let them know that you were interested in the traffic of -- trafficking in women?

GALSTER: Well, we would describe our company; show them the brochure.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

GALSTER: Tell them that we are already doing business in women from Southeast Asia, South America, and the United States. And there has been an increasing demand for women from the former Soviet Union. They sort of nodded at this, saying that they had heard this before. And we didn't have to say much more than that, and they would sort of cut me off and say: "look, we can do business."

So, a lot of it was winning their trust in the beginning that we were a legitimate company. And the fact that we were there with that kind of a brochure and talking to them was not that strange to them. It wasn't that uncommon. They had dealt with foreign traffickers, if you will, before.

CALDWELL: We were also being introduced by a woman with whom they already had some degree of a relationship.

GALSTER: That's right.

CALDWELL: So, you know, for that reason alone, I think they anticipated that we were legitimate. And she was aware that we were working undercover and -- and, you know, fully informed of the dangers, obviously.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guests are Steven Galster and Gillian Caldwell, executive director and co-director of the Global Survival Network. And they ran a two-year undercover operation investigating the trafficking of women from the former Soviet Union -- women who were sold into prostitution overseas.

Now Gillian, as a woman, were there things that you weren't supposed to be privy to?

CALDWELL: Yeah, I mean, actually, for the preliminary meetings, we were advised by the Russian consultant that we hired to have Steve -- to have Steve meet all of these people independently and without me. I had a business card as a public relations department, and if it were necessary would be called in afterwards to meet and interview potential women. For example, in several instances, they brought women for -- for Steve to meet that were interested in traveling overseas and interested in work overseas.

So in -- for all of those preliminary meetings, and obviously in the actual clubs where these women are working, women are not allowed unless they're employees.

So most of what I would be doing would be behind the scenes, actually reviewing the videotape after meetings; identifying areas for further investigation; thinking with Steve about how it is that he could arrange another meeting; where it is we wanted to go with it; what other potential connections we wanted to meet. For example, a higher level security or roof for the business; perhaps trying to get into document relevant government connections -- things along those lines.

GALSTER: There were other things that Gillian could do that I couldn't do. For instance, you know, we went into one of the clubs in Moscow where, you know, some of the pimps would recruit from, or it was just sort of a source of some -- where some of the women involved in the trade would congregate. And Gillian sort of mingled in with that crowd. I can't do that, obviously, 'cause I'm not a woman.

And she was also able to interview one of the traffickers as a journalist to see what he would say about his business, which was quite interesting compared to what he told me as a potential suitor or client.

CALDWELL: Yeah, what I did in that case was pretend to be a journalist, an American journalist interested in interviewing him about his school, which ostensibly provided alternatives to prostitution for women. And I had a whole long videotaped interview with him about this.

And then I said -- some weeks later I said: "incidentally, I ran into an American businessman you may be interested in talking with." And I sent Steve to meet with him, and Steve filmed those meetings on hidden cameras. And the comparison was quite dramatic, actually.

GROSS: Tell us about the comparison.

CALDWELL: Well, to me what he said was that he -- he would absolutely never -- never sell a woman into prostitution and there are plenty -- in fact, what he said was that there are plenty of women who are interested in it, and if they are, he could facilitate that. But for the most part, what his school focused on was developing the inner-self -- inner-self and the beauty of a woman. And you know, there's just a whole lot of propaganda surrounding it. But that basically he was not involved in the business of trafficking, and he was horrified that that was going on.

And what he said when he met with Steve was: yep, I can get you as many -- you know, as many girls or women as you want, and I can get underage girls out of the country by falsifying documents.

GROSS: Would you tell us about some of the specific scams and commands that you found? The fronts that the traffickers used to get women to come to them? The phony lines that they gave the women about what to expect when they went to the foreign country?

CALDWELL: I think most -- the biggest -- the biggest ploy is to play on these incredibly idealistic visions of the Western world. I mean, Russia was shut off from the Western world -- not just Russia, but the NIS, shut off from the Western world for so long. And there's tremendous adoration and admiration for the -- for the wealth and the riches and the beauty and the fashion of the West.

So what they're really playing on, no matter what job or opportunity they're offering, what they're playing on is this relatively naive image of a world where anything is possible. And you know, they may -- they may offer them jobs as waitresses or bartenders or school teachers or au pairs, but no matter what it is, what they're really trying to convince you of is that life is better somewhere else than where you are right now.

GROSS: My guests are Gillian Caldwell and Steven Galster, the directors of the Global Survival Network. We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

Back with Steven Galster and Gillian Caldwell, director of the human rights group, the Global Survival Network. They ran a two-year undercover operation investigating the selling of women into sexual bondage.

Now, are any of the marriage and modeling agencies that advertise really legit? You know, are they all fronts for prostitution rings?

GALSTER: No, no -- I don't think so. I think some are definitely legit. In fact, the ones based in the United States that we came into contact with in Russia looked legit. It's just that the get-togethers that they would have to introduce the women and the men also served as hunting grounds for Russian pimps who would come by. I mean, there'd be like, you know, maybe 10 American men and 300, you know, Russian women in the same sort of big restaurant where they were all supposed to meet each other.

And, you know, eight out of the 10 men or maybe five out of the 10 men will find somebody they like. So that leaves sort of, you know, 295 other women who need a job.

CALDWELL: Yeah, I mean, I think there are other problems with the marriage agencies. I mean, aside from the fact that the -- the databases can be used as recruitment mechanisms. And in fact, one of the traffickers we met with said, you know: "X company -- there are tremendous reserves from this marriage company that I can draw upon." And he had connections who would provide him names and phone numbers. So he would be accessing that database.

But aside from that, there are other problems that concern me. For example, there -- women are not given accurate information in many instances about the potential suitors. And what some preliminary studies have shown is that many of the men that are attracted to these mail order bride companies have histories of abuse. And they're -- and if you look at the advertising, they're specifically targeting men who are interested in women who will -- will be good -- good wives, which is defined as well-behaved and obedient and anti-materialistic.

GALSTER: And not career-oriented.


GALSTER: Very important -- they always put that in there.

CALDWELL: Yeah. So there is concern that what they're really looking for is a domestic servant of sorts.

GALSTER: I mean, I was one of the Americans at one of those get-togethers that a California-based marriage agency organized in Moscow. And the one question the women kept asking me was: "why would American men come all the way over here to find a Russian wife?" And I said: "well, that's a good question."

GROSS: It is a good question, isn't it?


GROSS: And what's the answer?

GALSTER: Well, I mean -- I think looking at some of the letters and meeting some of the guys that were coming over, I think like Gillian said, they're having a hard time finding a woman of their type in the United States who will stay at home and has good, you know, Christian values and doesn't want to get a job. And they're told through these marriage agency magazines, and even some infomercials on TV, that you know, you can have a good looking woman who's going to basically do what you want and...

CALDWELL: You know, she'll be half your age. I mean, they really -- they're advertising actually -- historically it's been Asian and Latin American women that have been recruited for mail order bride companies. And now, they're advertising the Russian women because they do not have a problem apparently with older men who have already been divorced.

So, they're really tapping into a different kind of an age group -- men that are looking for much younger women. And a kind of a caliber of woman, from their perspective, that they can't get without paying for it, I suppose.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guests are Gillian Caldwell, co-director of the Global Survival Network; and Steven Galster, executive director of the group. They ran a two-year undercover operation investigating the trafficking of women from the former Soviet Union -- women who were sold into prostitution overseas.

I have to ask you guys what kind of wardrobe you had for your undercover work in the sex trade.

CALDWELL: Well, Steve -- Steve claims he didn't have striped pants, but I saw them on the camera.


Steve, you go first.

GALSTER: What kind of clothes were we wearing?

GROSS: Yeah.

GALSTER: A large suit jacket; dress pants; dress shoes; tie; white shirt.

CALDWELL: Let me clarify: he wore a slick leather jacket, very tacky suede or pleather shoes; shiny shirts. And he tried to ride -- I think ride the fine line between looking wealthy and looking like a pimp or some sort of middle ground there.

GROSS: And Gillian, what about you? Were you expected to be wearing suggestive clothes?

CALDWELL: Yeah, I did. I did wear very short skirts, high heels, stockings -- lots of makeup, which I don't ordinarily do; and earrings. I must say, work -- going to the club where -- the club that we went to in Moscow called "Night Flight," which is notorious -- a notorious pickup. I mean, you simply don't go as a woman, I don't think, unless you're working; unless you're working as a prostitute -- was quite a -- quite a shocking experience.

I mean, I'm accustomed, obviously, as a woman to being perceived as a sexual entity on some level. That's -- there's nothing uncommon about that. But it's very different to be perceived as for sale. So that was -- actually, it was an invaluable experience.

I mean, I think it really gave me something in terms of understanding this whole investigation and what it's like. You know, that's as close as I could come to being in that experience without being trafficked myself.

GROSS: Now, you've explained that the Russian mafia is involved in the trafficking of women. Is it as lucrative, for instance, as drugs?

GALSTER: It's hard to estimate exactly how much money is being made on it. But profit margins are certainly up there. I mean, the difference is that you can make -- you can make more money off of women than you can off drugs, because you can sell the woman over and over.

CALDWELL: And it's -- it -- I mean, one woman that we met in Germany who was from the Russian Far East had been sold from pimp to pimp. So it's not just that you're sold to a whole series of customers, but you could actually, you know, once you buy a woman, if it gets to that point and if they're in that extreme servitude-type situation, they can be re-sold again and again.

The United Nations actually estimates $7 billion annually in trafficking human beings. Now, that's a broader category than trafficking for prostitution, but it just gives you some idea. And that really does rival the numbers -- the estimated profits for drugs and guns.

GROSS: Now that you have, you know, a video and a report that you've distributed in many countries, do you think many of the traffickers who you dealt with in your undercover operation are hip to you -- know now that you were really there undercover; and do you think you're in any way endangered now?

GALSTER: I think some of them probably are hip to what we were really doing, but I don't think -- knock on wood -- that we're in danger because we concealed the identities of everybody, including the pimps and traffickers, so there was no individual or company that was exposed in the investigation and, you know, shown to the public.

Our -- the purpose of our investigation was to show, you know, the tip of the iceberg and show that this was happening all over the place, and governments had to get together, NGOs had to work with governments, you know, to stem -- to stem this -- this flow, this illegal trade.

GROSS: Steven Galster and Gillian Caldwell are the directors of the Global Survival Network based in Washington, DC. They've published a report called "Crime and Servitude: An Expose of the Traffic in Women for Prostitution from the Newly Independent States." We'll talk more in the second half of the show.

I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESH AIR.

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Back with Steven Galster and Gillian Caldwell. They ran a two-year undercover operation investigating the selling of women from the former Soviet Union into sexual bondage.

Since the fall of communism, desperate and naive young women have been lured by ads promising adventure and work abroad, only to find that their passports are confiscated by the traffickers, and the women are forced into prostitution to pay back inflated travel and living expenses.

The markets for these women include such countries as Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Israel, and the United States.

In order to do this international trafficking in women, the traffickers have to secure visas or work permits from the receiving countries. Is that hard to do?

GALSTER: No, it's very easy. You just get an invitation as a -- for a tourist or a working visa, and you send it through. The woman takes a copy of that with her passport, goes to the embassy, applies, gets it, and then goes to that country.

CALDWELL: Well, I wanted to clarify one thing. It's actually very easy for the -- for the groups to coordinate five, 10, or maybe even 15 women traveling overseas as tourists. What is not so easy -- what's becoming increasingly difficult is for single women to approach embassies to travel -- particularly in the age categories we're talking about; young women between 15 and 29 for example.

And what -- what we're going to see -- one of the side effects of this kind of exposure is that immigration regulations are gonna crack down and embassies are gonna be scrutinizing these visa applicants more carefully. And what worries us about that is that it winds up being a human rights violation. And the people that continue to get visas easily are these networks that have established relationships with travel agencies that are simply, you know, where the embassies are simply rubberstamping visa applications.

GROSS: The sex trafficking that you're studying revolves around the trafficking of women from Russia and the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. Why is that now such -- such the capital for this sex trafficking? Why are so many women there getting involved in this?

CALDWELL: It's -- it's really been a growth industry since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginnings of perestroika. Because what we've seen in the transition to a market economy throughout that region is that women have borne a disproportionate brunt of the economic dislocation. In the Russian Federation, for example, between 70 and 95 percent of the unemployed are women. And many other women are underemployed, meaning that they have university and graduate degrees and are unable to find jobs or are unable to find jobs which can sustain them.

So although everybody's having it tough right now in that region, women are particularly hard hit and there has not been enough attention paid to persistent sex discrimination, sexual harassment which is far beyond what we're accustomed to in this country; where women may actually be raped in job interviews and/or expected to sleep with the boss and the clients on a routine basis.

So we're really talking about a hostile environment, if you can get a job. And in most cases, you simply can't.

GROSS: Is most of the trafficking in women outside of the former Soviet Union revolving around women from Asia and from developing countries?

CALDWELL: Yes, the biggest trends before this -- this new trend from Russia and the former Eastern Bloc was Latin America -- for example, the Dominican Republican is a big sending country; and from Asia, where many of the women are coming from -- Thailand; from Burma and from India.

GROSS: Are the Russian women considered in some countries to be, you know, more desirable because they're white?

GALSTER: Yes. You go to clubs in Japan and it costs more money to get into some of the clubs that have Russian women than it does to get into clubs that have Thai or Filipino women. So they're sort of marketed as these, you know, "glasnost beauties" -- tall. You know, they advertise them in pictures and stuff as, you know, blonde, white-skinned -- sort of like, you know, a first-world beauty, you know, at an affordable cost.

CALDWELL: The other -- the other thing that's interesting about how they're marketing Russian women is that in the same way that they market under-age girls or virgins, they are saying these are AIDS-free. And, you know, historically AIDS hasn't been as much of a problem in the former Eastern Bloc, but things are gonna change very quickly. There's already dramatic increases in syphilis and in other sexually transmitted disease in the Russian Federation, and I think we're gonna see real growths of HIV transmission because there's so little education and awareness about it.

Some of the women going to work in these sex clubs are not using condoms, and they're actually under an illusion that there is some kind of an inoculation that they can take if they get -- if they become HIV-positive. So, it's another advertising ploy.

GROSS: Gillian, I know you were able to interview some women who were sold into this kind of sexual slavery, and they gave you anonymous interviews. Can you share with us a couple of the stories that women told you about what their lives were like and why they couldn't get out of it?

CALDWELL: Well, one woman that I interviewed in the Russian Far East in Vladivostok was actually 19 years old, and she was attending school -- a school there near her home. And they advertised a Chinese cooking school, and she had always had really romantic notions -- that part of the Russian Far East is very close to China. She'd always had very romantic notions about China and about going there. And she signed up for this cooking school.

And she went and it turned out that the school was under construction; didn't really exist; and that the hotel they were staying in was also barely livable. She was with about seven other Russian girls. They took some classes -- some sorts of classes -- it was unclear exactly what -- in waitressing. And then it became a kind of a karaoke nightclub-type class. And within the first two weeks, it became clear that what they were expected to do was to work, you know, in the sex industry there.

And at some point, they were actually locked in a room. She was several meters off the ground, so that she -- they weren't able to get out. There was an armed guard. They were escorted to the bathroom when and if they wanted to go. Their passports were confiscated and they were informed that they had to pay $15,000 if they wanted the passports back.

And in a couple of instances, where they tried forcibly, you know, to fight their way out, they were actually badly beaten, and one of the women was hospitalized because she was slashed with a knife. They severed a tendon in her arm.

So, that's the most extreme of tales that you can hear; where you're really talking about imprisonment. But there are so many other mechanisms of controlling women. There is linguistic and cultural isolation. There is psychological manipulation. Oftentimes, pimps will take photographs of these women and say "we'll send it to your family. You're a prostitute. You're a whore. We'll tell your family what you did here." And that's really horrifying for these women.

There's a big generation gap, and the whole attitude toward sex and sexuality has changed so dramatically in the former Eastern Bloc over the last couple of years, and in Russia, that you know, many women felt like their parents would quite literally have a heart attack if they saw the photographs that were taken.

GROSS: Some of the women, you know, are forced to remain in prostitution because they're told they owe big money to the pimps. How much do the women actually make for the prostitution? Do they see any money?

CALDWELL: Very often they see no money. I mean, again, that's the most extreme circumstance. But the whole definition of a debt-bonded situation is that debts are arbitrarily defined and they continue to accrue. And that's the best way to control or manipulate -- if they have no expendable income. And what's interesting in Israel, for example, is that the women that -- the money that the women were making in Israel, they wouldn't be able to establish a bank account because they're there illegally, for example.

And the pimps would know that they would -- it would -- have it hidden in socks or in underwear drawers in their room. And at a point when it seemed like it was time for some new blood, some fresh meat, they would simply call the cops, arrange a search of the room, and have those funds confiscated; have a relationship with the police so that those funds were confiscated and it's returned to the pimp.

So, there's all sorts of ingenious ways to extract even what little's left.

GROSS: Did you come across any women who were able to escape from their enslavement?

CALDWELL: Well, the story that I told of the woman in the Russian Far East was -- I had interviewed her actually after she got back. She did -- she did manage to get out -- as I mentioned, she was locked in that hotel room. She did manage to get out -- escape with three of her colleagues. And after three months of traveling and actually having to prostitute on the way because there was virtually no other way to earn money; and after numerous visits to both the Russian Embassy and to local consulates, they were able to consider a Chinese mayor to fly them back to Russia.

But that's another thing -- it's another problem is that women quite frequently find that the consulates of the country -- their country of origin are not sympathetic when they do escape and they need help.

GROSS: Why not?

CALDWELL: Because they need to be educated about the problem. I mean, we're really trying to get this film and this report out to them so that they understand this is a human rights abuse, and these women are not to blame. There's a major problem where women are being blamed, and -- the victims are being blamed, in this instance.

GROSS: My guests are Gillian Caldwell and Steven Galster, the directors of the Global Survival Network. We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

Back with Steven Galster and Gillian Caldwell, the directors of the human rights group, the Global Survival Network. They ran a two-year undercover operation investigating the selling of women into sexual bondage.

Steven, you dealt with a lot of pimps who were, you know, attempting to sell you women during your undercover operation. What -- what kind of men did you meet who were pimps?

GALSTER: Well first of all, I'd say almost 50 percent of the pimps I met were women.

GROSS: Really?


GROSS: I'm surprised.

GALSTER: I should say "traffickers"...

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

GALSTER: ... pimps working clubs et cetera -- well, there's some women there, but those were mainly men.

GROSS: So these were like women running the "modeling" agencies and the "entertainment" agencies.

GALSTER: Marriage brokers -- there was one woman who was -- formerly trafficked herself, working as a prostitute abroad, and obviously decided to climb the chain of the business a bit and make money, rather than be exploited. She became an exploiter.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

GALSTER: A couple of other women who had run -- yeah, modeling agencies definitely; could make money, you know, selling legitimate models and those who were not, you know, pretty enough or successful enough in that line of business could be sold on the side as prostitutes right in Russia or abroad -- to Japan or Australia.

The men, you know -- met a guy who was a doctor. He was a surgeon during the Soviet Union; couldn't really get a job making money after that; went into all sorts of business, including being a pimp; even did some work for a U.S.-based marriage agency.

You know, they're -- they're exactly what you would expect them to be. Most of them are -- are despicable. And I think those who -- who seemed less despicable on the surface, I think they've become so numb by the business and they're looking at the bottom line. They're looking at the numbers; the profit and loss margins.

GROSS: What was -- go ahead.

CALDWELL: Well, I was going to say that my perspective, not having as much, you know, personal involvement with them was that it's any Tom, Dick or Joe on the street. And that's what surprised me. I think the pimps in the clubs are rough looking, tough looking, scary types.

The people that are involved in the business in receiving countries have the same kinds of connections and are just as dangerous, but you know, you'd be surprised. You know, it could be your cousin or your aunt or your uncle. I mean, there is so much economic desperation that I think very few people are above -- you know -- I think very few people are above the kind of -- the lucrative opportunity that this presents.

GROSS: Gillian, when you were looking at the audiotapes -- the hidden camera tapes -- did you give yourself and Steven feedback about what looked authentic and what you had to improve?

CALDWELL: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it was a constant process, a learning process, while we were going through this of evaluating who he was as a character, and more importantly what kind of information we wanted to get from -- from the people that we were talking to; what direction we wanted to go in with those interviews.

GALSTER: I mean, we had -- halfway through we got a miniature TV that fits in the size of your pocket, and you can, after interviewing somebody for 30 minutes or an hour, excuse yourself, go to the bathroom, pull it out, hook it up, rewind the tape, look at it, listen to it, and see how you sounded.

GROSS: Ooh, that sounds dangerous.


GALSTER: I spent, I mean -- spent, you know, 25 percent of this investigation in, you know, public bathrooms, you know, reviewing tape.

GROSS: Oh, I wouldn't want to be in that position.

CALDWELL: And that was a -- well, you have to do it, too, because a couple of times, you know, the battery had come undone or a wire was missing, so you weren't getting audio or you weren't getting video. I mean, we missed some audio on one of the most important interviews we had. Unfortunately, we only got the video on it. So there's all kinds of technical problems that can...

GALSTER: There's nothing worse than, you know, getting somebody to hang themself on film, only to go back to your apartment later, pull it out, look at it, and realize that, you know, the battery went dead halfway through. So if you can't check it beforehand, you automatically set up another appointment just in case you didn't get it; keep that relationship going.

GROSS: What did you miss because of bad batteries or bad wiring?

GALSTER: A pimp, trafficker taking us into a travel agency that they were using as a cover for trafficking business; took us in -- she couldn't have said it better, in English even -- had been educated at the University of Michigan I think -- said: "here's -- here's our -- I've shown you now our clean business -- the travel agency. Let's go down one more room and I'll show you the black part of the business, which is where we really make the money."

Took us in, you know, showed us the trafficker she works with. They pulled out the photo albums -- hundreds of pictures of women that they could send overseas; introduced us to a couple. And you know, just went from there -- really detailed how they did it and how they were going to deal with us.

Had it all on -- you know, had the visual down, but the battery had slipped off the microphone so I got none of it on audio. Fortunately, we met with her again several times. She discussed the same business over, so we were able to document that was going on.

GROSS: Do women who -- have been sold into prostitution ever, when they get out of it, talk to the authorities and try to turn in the guilty parties?

GALSTER: Very, very rarely. There is very little for them to gain from it. There's very little witness protection available in most countries. It usually goes to a public trial. They have to be shown in public that they were working as a prostitute, even if they were forced into it. It's embarrassing. There's possible legal action that can be taken against them if it's found out they were breaking some laws -- working illegally, you know, much less as a prostitute.

Very few of them do. But some have, and what I think Gillian and our organization are advocating as far as migration reform is to grant witness protection laws to women who, you know, can be protected during a trial and, you know, instead of just being deported or arrested.

CALDWELL: See, it's beyond protection, too. You need to really advocate relocation, which is a huge expense because it's not -- when they are deported, which they may eventually be, even if they apply for permanent residency, they are going to face substantial risks when they get home because these networks are well-connected with their hometowns.

So even if -- even if they can be protected while they're testifying in The Netherlands, there's a real risk that they may face repercussions when they get back home.

GROSS: You were at an international conference on the trafficking of women. Based on your experiences in your undercover operation and what you heard at the international conference, what do you think are some of the most effective things that governments or agencies can do now to help stop the trafficking -- the international trafficking in women?

CALDWELL: Well, in the long term, you've really got to focus on the economic condition of women. You've got to create viable alternatives. But that's a very long-term solution and I understand that this is an immediate problem. In an immediate sense, there needs to be -- there needs to be lots of education and promoted awareness through the media, through schools -- about the nature of this problem so that women understand what the risks are and what to look out for and how to protect themselves.

I think the receiving countries -- not just the sending countries, but the receiving countries also have to assume some responsibility for this situation, and should look at legislation like what Belgium has enacted which enables stays of deportation where women -- where trafficked women are identified -- to give them time to consider whether to provide testimony against the networks. And to give them the psychological support and the legal support that they need during that period of time.

GROSS: Well, I want to thank you both very much for telling us about the work you're doing.

GALSTER: Thank you very much.

CALDWELL: Thank you.

GROSS: Gillian Caldwell and Steven Galster are the directors of the Global Survival Network, based in Washington, DC. They have published a report called Crime and Servitude: An Expose of the Traffic in Women for Prostitution from the Newly Independent States.

Coming up, music critic Milo Miles introduces us to witty bands from Wisconsin and Brazil.

This is FRESH AIR.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: Gillian Caldwell; Steven Galster
High: Gillian Caldwell and Steven Galster went undercover to investigate the emerging illegal sex trade in Russia and the newly independent states. Their findings are published in a new report by the Global Survival Network. Their report says "Each day, thousands of women and girls are lured into the international sex trade with promises of a better life... They are transported by bus, plane, and train to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America, where they unexpectedly find themselves forced into cruel sexual exploitation."
Spec: Europe; Eastern Europe; Poverty; Prostitution; Slavery; Asia; Russia; Crime; Human Rights
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Sex Trade Discovered in Former Communist Nations
Date: FEBRUARY 10, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 021002np.217
Head: Karnak/Hwy X
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:55

TERRY GROSS, HOST: What makes one group of musicians who plays screwy music a novelty act? And another group simply witty and playful? Music critic Milo Miles talks about how wildly eclectic taste and the ability to play ironically connect a band from Wisconsin and a band from Brazil.


MILO MILES, FRESH AIR COMMENTATOR: All world music groups are novelty acts in the sense that they are just not the main course of the mainstream in this country.

But world music groups that do a little clowning and make musical jokes immediately risk becoming flat-out novelty acts -- that is, curios; nutty knick-knacks. However, certain rare off-beat bands are not simply buffoons, but jesters -- bold and wise and pointed with their humor.

Two such outfits are the Reptile Palace Orchestra -- pokey types from Wisconsin; and "Karnak," a big batch of zanies from Brazil. The Reptile Palace Orchestra is, naturally, a bit more like a main course here. This is from their third and latest CD, "Hwy X."


And I will survive
For a millennium
And still I thrive

Still I thrive
Still I thrive
Still I thrive
Still I thrive

I kill...

MILES: Now, that's not silly at all, but a wondrously bizarre song about vampires by Michael Hurley (ph). The Reptile Palace Orchestra covers and combines all sorts of mad fiddle music from Turkey and Finland and Armenia and Greece. But what really makes them stand out is their ability to perform a superlative Michael Hurley or a sensitive hoe-down treatment of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing."

And in concert, they're liable to take on tunes by Led Zeppelin, "Funkadelic," James Brown, and Richard Thompson -- and make all of them sound suitable for an unfettered string band. The Reptile Palace Orchestra is a direct link back to the days of fearless folk outfits like the "Holy Modal Rounders" (ph).

Brazil's Karnak are more like Frank Zappa goes international.


MILES: Karnak's figglety-figglety methods have reportedly outraged some world music purists. One minute they're singing in Arabic and the rest in Russian. I'd never heard a band quite so eclectic within songs. They switch among Egyptian pop, American rap, Mexican rock and roll, Brazilian drum corps and whatever else, with computer-like speed.

The question is not where does Karnak want to go today, but where are they going in the next measure of music.


MILES: I suspect Karnak irritates purists because the band pokes fun at the whole new-agey concept of one world, unified by music. Karnak's leader Andre Abuhamra (ph) knows the modern ear jumps madly from sound to sound, but he finds it droll -- humanely absurd -- not cosmically beautiful.

Slamming together many types of music carries lots of risk. The Reptile Palace Orchestra has to worry about being merely quaint, and sometimes they reach for material they just cannot grasp. Karnak, on the other hand, should beware of piling on styles as an end in itself, and they need a few more serious moments.

Even if both outfits go haywire at times, I wish there were a dozen more bands with the spunk and imagination of Karnak and the Reptile Palace Orchestra.

GROSS: Milo Miles is music features editor at The Reptile Place Orchestra's album Hwy X is on Omnium Records, while the Karnak debut is on the Tinder label.

Dateline: Milo Miles, Cambridge; Terry Gross, Philadelphia
High: Music critic Milo Miles reviews "Hwy X" by the Reptile Palace Orchestra from Wisconsin, and "Karnak" by the band named Karnak from Brazil.
Spec: Music Industry; Brazil; Karnak; Reptile Palace Orchestra; Hwy X
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Karnak/Hwy X
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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