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Elena says she earns 30 German marks for sexual intercourse. She supplements her earnings by cleaning the brothel in which she works. The sex trade is flourishing in Bosnia. Groups of women are daily smuggled across Bosnia's poorly secured borders, many of them ending up in the republic's brothels. Many are bought and sold by criminal gangs, paid a pittance - or nothing at all - and live in appalling conditions. She made her remarks two years ago, and since then the problem has deteriorated.
Only last month, the UN said Bosnian Serb police rescued 33 women forced into prostitution, in a raid on nightclubs in the town of Prijedor. Some of them were only years-old. Prostitution has prospered in frontier areas because they afford quick and easy escape routes during police raids. In one federal police raid on a brothel built exactly on a border, its owner simply crossed into Republika Srpska side of the building to escape arrest.
The area around Zenica in central Bosnian has become particularly associated with the sex-trade, which ranges from street prostitution to exclusive bordellos. Bosnian women themselves are hardly represented in local prostitution rackets, since brothel-owners fear local girls would be more likely to attract unwelcome police attention. Instead, they are shipped off to work abroad - usually to Holland or Switzerland, where they often end up as streetwalkers. Use of prostitutes in Bosnia is so widespread that the authorities issued a public health warning after a particular popular Romanian woman, whose clients included several local officials, was diagnosed with syphilis.
Attempts by local police and international forces to cut the supply of prostitutes to Bosnia have failed. Law enforcement agencies deport those they arrest in brothels but they are soon replaced. Many foreign women working in the sex-trade do so willingly, but a significant number have been tricked, lured to Bosnia with promises of work as waitresses, nannies and baby-sitters.
There's little possibility of running away as they don't have any money or identity documents. They also fear their bosses will beat them if they are caught. Since April this year, as many as foreign women, many of them from Moldova and Romania, have sought help from the international police in Bosnia claiming they were forced into prostitution. Prostitution here is only one branch of a well developed mafia-controlled sex-trade in the Balkans. The business is run by the Ukrainian and Russian mafia.