The Inter Press Service, an international news agency focused on development and globalization, published a lengthy review of photojournalist Mimi Chakarova’s work on sex trafficking today. Chakarova’s multimedia project, The Price of Sex, was produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Chakarova’s work sensitively presents the tragic stories of women from countries such as Moldova or the Ukraine sold into brutal sexual slavery often by neighbours or acquaintances. The few women who manage to escape find themselves facing not only serious health issues or psychological trauma, but also the social stigma associated with having worked as sex workers.

One of the young women interviewed by Chakarova, Jenea, from a small village in southern Moldova, was sold into prostitution by a neighbour who had promised to help her get a job in Moscow. At 18, Jenea found herself locked in a hotel room in Turkey, forced to sleep with as many as 50 men on some days. She escaped after one year.

Back in her village, she now lives in a two-room house with her sister and niece, unable to find a job because of prejudice, and health problems – incontinence, a direct result of the sexual abuse suffered in Turkey. “It would have been better for me not to have been born,” Jenea says softly, on camera.

Chakarova’s research certainly goes further than telling the terrible stories of trafficked women. The detailed personal accounts highlight the problems that need to be addressed if sex trafficking is to be controlled. Poverty emerges time and again as the main cause in each of her stories.

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