Irina was a 16-year-old high school student from the southern Russian Federation when she accepted a family friend's proposal to take a quick trip to the Middle East. The offer of US$ 500 for her help in bringing back merchandise to sell in the Russian Federation seemed lucrative. Irina was introduced to Renat, and within days, she received a passport, a tourist visa and a plane ticket.
In the meantime, Irina's new friends had "improved" her travel agenda. She was now to work as a waitress in a local café for US$ 1,000 a month. Irina's mother was suspicious but was quickly assured that her daughter was in good hands. Renat also warned Irina's mother that the travel arrangements had cost him a lot of money, and if her daughter cancelled the trip, she would owe him US$ 1,000.
Upon arrival at her destination, Irina found out that she would not be a waitress, she would be a prostitute. Her passport was taken away, and she was threatened if she refused to obey or tried to run away.
Irina's life became a series of hotel rooms, boarding houses, "madams" and clients until she finally tried to escape. She stole her documents and some cash and hailed a taxi. As soon as Irina entered the airport, she was stopped by the police. The "madam" was with them and claimed that Irina had stolen her money. Without asking questions, the police ordered Irina to return with the "madam". She was resold to another hotel owner and saddled with a new debt of US$ 10,000 to compensate for her misbehaviour. News from the Russian Federation of Renat's arrest following a petition by Irina's mother brought added threats and abuse.
But Irina did not give up trying to escape. Six months into her ordeal, she finally managed to contact the Russian Embassy. There, she found out that her name had remained in the Interpol "missing persons" files for months.
With the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Russian Embassy, Irina was safely repatriated. Her case was investigated by the police and is being heard in court.
UNODC combats human trafficking through a global awareness raising campaign and works to strengthen the capacities of governments to help prevent stories like Irina's from being repeated. UNODC projects also support the re-entry of victims, like Irina, into society.
source of Irina's story
3.2 miles for Irina
323.77 miles to date.
G.Q., N.H., and S.O.
Because He first loved me,