“You can buy a woman for $10,000 and you can make your money back in a week if she is pretty and if she is young. Then everything else is profit.” Victor Malarek, the recipient of four Governor General’s Awards for meritorious public service in journalism, has given the world another best seller and an amazing book which stands out from all others I have read so far. This book titled “The Natashas, Inside the New Global Sex Trade” is a sneak peek into reality presenting the world’s most ugly and inhuman side just the way it is. This one seems to form the link with his pervious one, “The Johns: Sex for sale and men who buy it” some sense describes his penchant for exploring those hidden and untaken paths.
As the name suggests this book is an attempt at exploring the realities associated with the world’s third most profitable commodity after illegal weapons and drugs- human flesh. It is the real life story of numerous ‘Natashas’- the sex workers (read sex slaves) and ‘johns’- the customers hiring their services. The author has very successfully woven the facts and figures with heart wrenching emotions.
This book adds to one’s perspective another horizon to look at things. Not many of us would have ever empathized with a sex worker and we are far from ever understanding that there can possibly be a story related to the gaudily dressed women standing down the lane. Malarek has presented his research on the issue of human trafficking supporting it with facts, names and dates.
The book relates the sensitive issue of human trafficking with various social and economic aspects. Starting with economic aspects the author explains how the breakup of Soviet Union in 1991, thought to be a blessing soon gave way to reality. The independent nations witnessed an era where security and equality became the relics of the past. The poverty and widespread unemployment leading a number of desperate women to sign up for jobs in far off lands to work as nannies, waitress etc. every year. But it is only when they land in the unknown empires of the mafias that they realize what their real jobs are.
The focus on social aspects like the spread of HIV, other STDs and increasing number of orphans born of these sex workers is also noteworthy. The author has mastered the art of writing and expresses the horrors that these women have to live everyday in the most simple and entrancing language. While these women are forced by their poverty and lured by false promises of earning big, they are not even allowed to keep a tenth of the income they earn. These women are supplied from various parts of the world to work at peep shows, massage parlors, bars etc. servicing anywhere between 4-15 men every night or even more!
Something that really stands out in this book is the boldness of the author with which he has written at length about the double standards of the bureaucrats and the ‘supposed’ guards of humanity. The inability to solve this violation of human rights is not the absence of a solution but the unwillingness and cowardice of the government and the policemen. More often than not, these very policemen are found to be directly or indirectly supporting these brothels, sometimes hanging around for ‘freebies’. The problem neither starts nor ends there but surfaces as a more serious one which involves global corruption. The author amply highlights the case of UN peacekeepers sent to Bosnia-Herzegovina to restore law and order. These very guards of the people were found to have purchased such sex slaves for themselves and also a few were found to be running brothels, supporting them or frequenting them for the ‘freebies’. The authorities played a blind eye to them. But the corruption doesn’t end their and is apparent in the upper echelons of the society reflecting itself in the dishonesty and diplomacy with which the U.S. has been observed to be implementing the very few policies formed to curb human trafficking at the global level.
The book also explores the role of the internet in enhancing the sex trade and explains how it has triggered a spate of ‘sex tourism’, to put it that way. This, putting the sex workers just a click away! The double standards of the men justifying their act with myriad reasons like prostitution, helping in pulling down the number of rapes comes as a slap to our morality.
Looking at how these women are often forced, abducted and raped with no chance to escape, the author has put together a soul stirring account of his experiences. Everything from the conversations with the victims and the victimizers, to the experience of raiding the bars has been well put, concise and crisp. Thus to conclude, this book is a perfect and necessary read to know more about the real side of the world.