World Cup Sex Industry Uncovered — Part III

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In the last two days I’ve interviewed three girls from similar backgrounds that I want to tell you about. Each has gone her separate way.

Shasha is Russian and looks the part. She moves quickly, smiles quickly (although rarely), works hard, and gets things done. Her hotel manager surely loves her.

For two days she watched my colleagues and me work, but never said a thing. Last night she broke the silence. “Why do you wear that around your neck?" she asked.

“I’m a priest," I said. “It’s called a clerical collar and it signifies my dedication to God."

“And the television camera?” she retorted.

There was no camera in sight. She must have seen Barnaby lugging the equipment around the reception area earlier.

“Well, we are here in Germany to do a story for American television. It is about human trafficking and legal prostitution in relation to the World Cup."

She gave a quick, forced smile, and with that she left.

Her abrupt departure was revealing. I called her back and asked if we could talk for a moment. She refused politely and signaled toward the kitchen. She said she was very busy. And I’m sure she was.

As I left the restaurant she strolled by again.

“Okay, I’ll talk with you." That’s all she said.

A half an hour later she was weeping. “I made a big mistake. I will be a shame for my children.”

She went on to tell me the harrowing story of her departure from Russia. She was poor, but her parents were good and ordinary folk. In a moment of youthful rebellion and a healthy desire for self-improvement, she agreed to go with a group of her friends to work in Germany. They were told they would be dancers. In the back of her mind, Shasha knew it might not be pretty. It wasn’t.

When she arrived in Munich she was placed in an apartment with seven other girls. Her passport was taken. She danced, but she was only paid for her extra work. It was prostitution. She recalled how she cried every day for two years, and still cries. “I wanted to go home, but I couldn’t. Or maybe I could, but I didn’t know how. I was afraid, above all, for my parents.”

She wouldn’t say more. Shasha was eventually released to return to Russia, after pleading with her employers to allow her to visit her sick parents. A month later she was back in Germany, but this time on her own and determined to make an honest living.

“It’s very hard…very, very hard. Here I work too much, but I don’t cry." Shasha knows her past will never leave her mind. She has not decided if she will marry or have children.

“Coco” was from the former Yugoslavia. My conversation with her was much different, and it wasn’t because the camera was on. Mr. Kruneich, the manager of the brothel and her boss, stood by her side. She answered my questions with one or two words and she knew precisely what to say — and what not to say.

Here’s how we began:

“You work here. Do you like it?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Are you forced to be here?” I continued.

“No, I want to be here.”

I tried another angle. “Do you have sisters?”

“Yes, I have two."

"And are they younger than you?”

She looked down. “Yes, they are."

“Do you want them to work here with you when they get older?”

“No, I don’t.”

She looked at her boss. He looked at me. End of interview. There was no reason to go on.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the third girl I met, who tells a very different story. It is a happy one.

I’ll also report on my conversation with the spokesman for Germany’s Department of Family Life, which, surprisingly, is the government ministry that oversees the legalized prostitution industry. It is an important piece of the story.

God bless, Father Jonathan

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