[Interview with Tatiana Zabelina, Moscow Youth Institute / Interview with Dr. Lola Karimova, AESOP Center, Moscow, part 1]

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  •  Second part of interview with Dr. Lola Karimova of the AESOP Centre in Moscow. She continues to talk about prostitutes in Moscow and the women she has been in contact with. She says she is most concerned about the street prostitutes, and wants to publish a small booklet for prostitutes who work at the train station. She recounts a story of meeting an 11-year-old girl who was working as a prostitute. 
  •  NB: Can you explain why you don't want to talk about it, that's also important. Lola: I think the situation in Russia is so uncontrolled, that ...it's not just my opinion, but I think that anyone working on this problem will not talk about it. This is what I think about it. Since there exist closed brothels which service the Russian establishment, someone is protecting it, and someone needs it. If there can be a huge number of advertisements in newspapers with a big circulation about the fact that a man can receive any services in these houses, they have different names, "Diana," "Roksana." It's official, you can read about it in any newspaper. The government knows about it. But it exists all the same. 
  •  NB: Can you tell us more about the brothel where you worked. Lola: I don't know where this brothel was, since the doctors' offices were in a completely different place. None of us knew where it is, who works there. Of course we knew the contingent which we treated, but again, we didn't know their names. There was a catalogue (files) where there were numbers and any made-up name. In addition, these women didn't know ...the true owners of this place. It was a very complicated chain, where everyone knew a small link. Of course, there were drivers with cars who knew a few people, each woman knew several people, but practically no one knew the full picture. NB: Did the police know? Lola: Of course...I don't know where it was, but I know it was protected. 
  •  NB: You had said that you had honest conversations with these women. What were they about? Lola: About their profession, about their lifestyle. I didn't ask what men they serviced. These questions were forbidden from the beginning. One couldn't talk about these topics. I never asked what kind of sex they practice, how many men they service. My conversations with them were honest, but about their emotional health. About what they think about this, about whether they have children, and how the children deal with this problem...I already talked about that. 
  •  NB: Would you like to add anything? Lola: I am most worried about the lower strata of prostitution, because this is a contingent with a high percentage of all the STD, a high percentage of abortions, of criminal [illegal] abortions. I'm very worried about them. I've been thinking about what can be done for them. And I came up with this idea for the train station prostitutes. To publish a small booklet, bright, colorful, so they take it in their hands. There will be a condom attached to this booklet. They will never come to us. They won't come to us and say, "I'm a prostitute, help me, or give me a condom." But at many train stations, there are consulting rooms for these women... which work for Doctors without Borders (? unclear). Maybe if we leave these booklets on the tables in these consulting rooms, pretty, bright booklets with condoms inside, the women will pick them up. Even if five of them don't use it, maybe the sixth will. That is already good. It will progress along a chain. Maybe the first month, twenty women will pick them up, but the second month, maybe a hundred, and then maybe more. This is the first step. And then when after a few months, women will pick up these condoms with the booklets...it can't be just a piece of paper, no one pick up just a piece of paper. For them, it needs to be something pretty. I understand that this means money, that it will be very costly, but the health of a nation is much more costly, and much more valuable than a piece of paper. Maybe that's where we should start. But that's just my idea. 
  •  NB: What is the attitude of Russian men toward condoms? Lola: You know, it is changing in a very positive way. My center portrays condoms as a hygienic measure, a lifestyle, that it's the same kind of means like toothpaste, like hand cream, that it's a lifestyle. And we're succeeding. Interest toward condoms is growing, and people are beginning to use good condoms, not red or black or with ducks or with mustaches, but good condoms. This makes me very happy. 
  •  NB ASKS GBC WHAT OTHER QUESTIONS To ASK. NB: Can you say something about the age of prostitutes? Lola: I know 11 year old girls who are prostitutes. They start at 11. NB: Did you read about this in the papers? Lola: I asked her how old she was, and she said 11. It was a chance encounter, an honest conversation on the street with a little girl. Why are you standing on the street so late? [LOLA PAUSES, WANTING NB TO ASK ABOUT THE
    ANSWER]. NB: And what did she answer? Lola: At first she was silent, but then we began to talk, and she said that she's not embarrassed by it, that she performs oral sex on men, and gets 25,000 rubles for it. NB: And what about her parents? Did she have parents, did they know about this? 
  •   Lola: Yes, she was from a troubled family, her parents were alcoholics, but I don't think that it's characteristic for all underage prostitutes. Although, the appearance of these girls suggests that they are not from very well-off families. 
  •  NB: In the brothel where you worked, did the prostitutes live there? Lola: No, they came there. 
  •  NB: How many days a week did they work? Lola: Those with whom I talked would tell in advance about their free time, and would give their hours ahead of time. 
  •  NB: Did they service Russian men or foreigners? Lola: They were rich Russians and rich foreigners. 
  •  NB: Did they use condoms? Lola: They always used condoms. 
  •  NB: Do you have any more stories, anecdotes you would like to tell us? Lola: You know, I have a lot of stories, but I have to be at an appointment in town at 3:00....A woman is 29 years old. She is from Central Asia, she's Russian, she has two kids, she split up with her husband already here, in Moscow. A very pretty woman. She had a lover who supported her, and when they split up, he passed her on to another man, who also supported her. This other man had friends who also paid her to service them. [PHONE RINGS VERY LOUDLY]. Another little story. NB: Is this typical? Lola: Not really typical? NB: What was her motivation for becoming a prostitute? Lola: Money, I think...Money. And no other alternatives to earn it. NB ASKS THE QUESTIONS. 
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Title:[Interview with Tatiana Zabelina, Moscow Youth Institute / Interview with Dr. Lola Karimova, AESOP Center, Moscow, part 1]
Abstract:The first part of this video is an interview (in English) with Tatiana Zabelina from the Moscow Youth Institute. She founded the Center for Women, Family, and Gender Studies at the institute in 1993. She begins by talking about the work that the center has done, and their current project to provide organizational training and seminars for young women and for health service providers. Zabelina cites a poll that showed that 22% of girls were willing to have sex for money. She talks about problems with education, family structure, and poverty in smaller cities that lead to prostitution, and about the spread of AIDS related to prostitution. Zabelina says that the trade of women is controlled by the Mafia, and talks about a recent trial in Germany involving Russian sex workers who were murdered in a brothel. She says that girls are controlled by the Mafia because they have no rights in the countries they are in, have no support, and are afraid. Zabelina discusses various cases of child sexual exploitation, and says that the path to prostitution often begins with rape. Zabelina says that media plays a negative role, showing prostitution as a well-paid, easy, and safe profession. Since perestroika, problems are more openly discussed and there are more programs and organizations; however, women's sexuality is now being exploited in capitalist ways.Zabelina says that everyone involved in prostitution should be punished, and that there should be better control over companies that trade in women. She says there should be state-sponsored programs to help girls. At the end of the interview, there is a MS of interviewer Gillian Caldwell and Zabelina. Caldwell re-asks the questions from the interview for video production purposes. The second part of this video is the first part of an interview (in Russian) with Dr. Lola Karimova, director of the program for women's sexual wellness at the AESOP Center in Moscow. In the interview she talks about the increase in sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis due to social decline, migration, commercialization of sex, and the complete lack of sex education programs. She also talks about treatment for survivors of rape and marital rape, saying that doctors in Russia are not adequately trained. Dr. Karimova discusses prostitution in Russia, and her experience working with "elite" prostitutes. These women are highly educated, concerned about their health, and aware of diseases. They work as prostitutes to earn extra income. She also talks about working with street prostitutes, who are very young and do not know about basic hygiene and health. Dr. Karimova talks about the social relations between men and women in Russia. She says that men are not aware of women's problems, and tend to not share responsibility for children. In terms of the sexual culture in Russia, she says that during the transition from socialism, a "sexual revolution" took place in which pornography became readily available, but not sex education. The interview returns to the topic of prostitution. Dr. Karimova talks about a successful Dutch program that provided health education as well as practical information for prostitutes. She then tells a story about a young woman who ended up as a prostitute, transmitted sexual diseases to many johns, and was mistreated by police. Dr. Karimova also talks about the perception of prostitution in Russia.
Sequence:1 of 1
  • Global Survival NetworkRole: Creator
  • Natalia BlinkovaRole: Videographer
  • Gillian CaldwellRole: Interviewer
Publishers:Global Survival Network
The University of Texas
Date Created:1996/02/06
Topics:civil and political rights--women's rights
armed conflict and persecution--domestic violence
armed conflict and persecution--sexual violence
economic, social, and cultural rights--economic and labor rights--human trafficking
economic, social, and cultural rights--economic and labor rights--sex workers
economic, social, and cultural rights--economic and labor rights--globalization
economic, social, and cultural rights--health and healthcare
Named Entities:Lola Karimova
Tatiana Zabelina
Geographic Focuses:Europe--Russia--Moscow
Europe--Russia-St. Petersburg
Geographic Base:North America and Central America--United States--New York--Brooklyn
Type of Resource:Moving image
Notes:Thousands of women from Russia and post-Soviet states have endured exploitation and slavery, yet their stories have been largely ignored by most law enforcement agencies and governments. Police agencies in receiving countries often minimize the extent of trafficking, and governments usually respond to trafficking as a problem of illegal migration, an approach that transforms women victimized by particular circumstances into criminals. To learn why and how this form of modern slavery persists, and to propose solutions, the Global Survival Network (GSN) conducted a study from August 1995 through the Autumn of 1997 to uncover the rapidly growing trade in Russian women for the purposes of prostitution. GSN conducted videotaped interviews with numerous non-governmental organizations, women who had been trafficked overseas, and police and government officials in Russia, Western Europe, Asia, and the United States. In order to delve into and learn more about the world of organized crime and its role in Russian sex trafficking, GSN also conducted some unconventional research by establishing a dummy company that purportedly specialized in importing foreign women as escorts and entertainers. Under the guide of this company, GSN successfully gained entry to the operations of international trafficking networks based in Russia and beyond. Many of the interviews were recorded with hidden cameras and provide insight into the trafficking underworld in action. Wherever legal, interviews were recorded by hidden cameras directly inside the establishments where prostitution was occurring. Whenever possible, the investigators revealed the nature of the work. In some cases, security conditions for both the investigator and the persons interviewed prevented disclosure. In order to preserve the safety and privacy of all parties involved, pseudonyms have been given to the persons interviewed during GSN's covert investigations, and whenever requested otherwise. "Bought and Sold: An Investigative Documentary on the International Trade in Women" was produced by GSN in collaboration with WITNESS in 1997, based on the two year undercover investigation. This groundbreaking documentary helped to catalyze legislative reform on trafficking as well as new financial resources to address the problem.
    This resource is made available by the University of Texas Libraries solely for the purposes of research, teaching and private study. All intellectual property rights are retained by the legal copyright holders. Formal permission to reuse or republish this content must be obtained from the copyright holder.

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