Only On 7: Modern Day Sex Slaves

Dulles International Airport – Only On 7, a woman who says she lived the life of a modern day sex slave is telling her story.

The woman we’ll call Katya says she was trafficked through Dulles International Airport from overseas and thrown into a life of misery. Recently, she returned to Dulles, and the emotions flooded back.

“I’m just thinking how naïve I was when I came the first time,” Katya said. “All the feelings came back to me. I feel so much stronger now than I used to be”

Five years ago Katya was approached by a family friend in her hometown of Kiev, Ukraine. He told her he would give her a student visa so she could study and work in the U.S. for six months.

“I’m thinking I’ll know English, more doors will open for me and I will have money so I can provide for my family,” Katya recalls.

When 19-year-old Katya arrived at Dulles, the family friend greeted her and gave her a bus ticket to Detroit. Twelve hours later, three men picked her up, took her to a hotel room and stripped her of all of her travel documents.

“I felt like, right now, they can take advantage of me,” she recalled. “They can do anything to me.”

Katya says her captors told her she had to work off $25,000 in travel expenses. She was forced to work 12 hours a day, six days a week.

“They’re telling us, ‘You’re going to work at a strip club. You’re going to dance. You’re going to work from 2 to 2, double shift,'” she said.

When she wasn’t working, she says she was physically, sexually and emotionally abused. She felt she couldn’t escape.

“They knew where I lived,” she said. “They knew where to find me, they knew where to find my family

According to the State Department, labor and sex trafficking has grown into a multi-billion-dollar global industry. Approximately 12 million people are considered modern day slaves worldwide and 14,000 are trafficked into the U.S. each year.

“Twenty-thousand flight attendants could put a huge dent in the trafficking of children,” says American Airlines flight attendant Sandi Fiorini, who started a hotline other flight attendants can call if they suspect someone is a victim or a trafficker. Fiorini says she meets young girls with Katya’s story all the time on her international flights.

“I’ll go over and sit with them and I’ll say, ‘Oh, where are you going?'” Fiorini recalls, “And they’re so excited. They go, ‘We’re coming to the U.S. We’re going to be models and we’re going to work on TV.’

James Spero oversees trafficking outreach for the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. He says the growing problem is happening in plain sight and knows no boundaries.

“This is a global problem,” Spero said. “It’s happening in our backyard. It’s happening in U.S. cities.”

Spero says in many cases, trafficking victims don’t make it out alive. But with the help of his agency and a good samaritan Katya met at the strip club, she was able to escape her captors

“He said, ‘Those people will help you out. Do whatever they tell you,'” Katya recalled.

Years later, she’s thankful for a second chance at life.

“I’m the lucky one, but there’s not too many of us,” she said. “Usually, stories don’t finish this way.”

Katya still resides in Detroit. She is expecting her first child next May. Her captors were arrested and put away. One of them will be released from jail in just two years.

Immigration officials say the toughest part of cracking down on sex trafficking is that the victims are often too afraid to speak out. If you suspect someone may be a victim you are urged to contact ICE’S hotline at 1-866-347-2423.


Published in: on November 20, 2009 at 8:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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