GENEVA, (Agence France Presse) - Hundreds of women leave Armenia every year for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey to work as prostitutes via well-established recruitment networks, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said here on Friday.
A new IOM study says lack of job opportunities at home is one of the main reasons why the women leave. But it said the high demand in destination countries, as well as
the lucrative profits to be made and the fact that "poorly paid officials are willing to turn a blind eye or to falsify travel documents in exchange for money" also contributed.
Based on interviews with 59 Armenian women who had recently returned from the UAE and Turkey, the study found that 49 percent of the women said they had been working as prostitutes.
Just 17 percent said they suspected when they left Armenia that they would end up working in the sex industry, IOM said. Sixty-five percent of the women interviewed were under the age of 30.
"All those surveyed said they had travelled abroad -- two-thirds to Turkey and one third to the UAE -- in search of work," the IOM said.
"Over 60 percent said employment creation would be the most effective measure to reduce and prevent trafficking from Armenia," it added.
Recruitment tends to follow two patterns. In the first scenario, it begins with a neighbour, friend or acquaintance who acts as a local recruiter and has links with employers or pimps abroad.
In the second pattern, recruitment is done by middlemen such as foreign tour operators or people posing as employment agents able to secure jobs abroad.
The study also said that while the Armenian criminal code addresses a number of trafficking-related offences, there are shortcomings in both the legislation and the way it is applied.
"So far, there has been only one indictment and although the victims included minors, the traffickers received mild sentences," the IOM said.