Cablegate: Turkey's 157 Tip Helpline: It Saves Lives

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


B. ANKARA 4316

1. Summary: The USG's financing of a trafficking prevention
campaign, put into effect by the International Office for
Migration (IOM) working closely with the GOT, has
demonstrated outstanding results from reclaimed lives to
governmental cooperation. Twenty-four victims of trafficking
have been rescued as a direct result of the 157 Helpline.
With stories now surfacing of the torture and rape of foreign
and (now) Turkish women forced into prostitution, continuing
the helpline is crucial. End Summary.


2. Allan Freedman, Strategic Consultant for IOM Ankara,
reported that the Turkish counter-trafficking campaign
launched in May 2005 is an enormous success, and, in fact, is
the most successful campaign IOM has managed in the world.
The campaign is funded by a $600,000 grant from the USG to
IOM and the campaign has validated that the basic strategic
framework and implementation of the 157 Helpline does work
and that a multi-national, multi-media campaign can be
successful with a coordinated effort.

3. Since May 23 the helpline has received 236
trafficking-related calls. One hundred and thirty of those
calls were rescue requests (from victims themselves as well
as from clients, friends or concerned citizens). Twenty-four
women have been rescued from modern slavery: 11 Ukrainians,
ten Moldovans, two Turks and one Romanian. Six women have
been rescued in Antalya, five in Mersin, five in Istanbul,
three in Ankara, two each in Kusadasi and Elazig and one in
Sanliurfa. Twelve suspected victims of trafficking have
refused assistance and today the status of four is being
determined. The figures steadily rise.

4. In addition to saving lives, the trafficking prevention
campaign has instilled goodwill in many GOT bureaus, says
Marielle Sander-Lindstrom, IOM's Chief of Mission. Now not
only does the Foreigner's Department of the National Police
deal with the issue, but the Public Order and Organized Crime
Departments have joined in the fight by providing training to
police emergency operators on how to recognize human
trafficking victims. The Ankara Bar Association has also
trained 157 Operators on the rights of foreign women married
to Turks.

5. When PolOff asked Anastacia, one of the 157 operators,
how she handles the disturbing stories recounted to her day
after day, she replied that one life saved is well worth
everything she endures.


6. Sander-Lindstrom related the unsettling story of a
32-year-old Moldovan mother of three who came to Istanbul on
the promise of a job in the tourism sector, sadly a very
typical scenario. The Moldovan found herself locked in a
basement for six years forced to work as a sex slave serving
dark-skinned men who spoke Turkish with heavy foreign
accents. (Note: Sander-Lindstrom strongly feels that the
men were of Arabic origin and not Kurdish.) The Moldovan was
given hormonal injections (what she called "serum") making
her gain 20 kilos, which, she said, "made her more appealing
to the men."

7. Five Ukrainians in Antalya were trapped in an underground
hell hole, the entrance camouflaged with stones. The women
were tortured into prostitution by beatings and one woman had
hot oil poured on her legs and genitals. One of the victims
called the helpline after she saw the number advertised on
television. Newspapers reported that the women were kept in
an underground four square metered shelter with no bathing
facilities and no circulation other than one fan. The
victims had been in the subterraneous torture chamber for ten
months, having arrived in Antalya with (once again) the
promise of employment. Two of the Ukrainians are mother and
daughter, both raped and tortured by their captors.

8. One of the other five Ukrainian victims was forced to
marry her trafficker to allow her also-trafficked sister to
return to the Ukraine. What she did not know was that the
trafficker, now her husband, had blackmailed her sister into
recruiting girls for him in the Ukraine, threatening to hurt
the married sister if she did not comply. The traffickers
were arrested and the woman and her fellow victims rescued
after the gendarmerie set up an undercover sting operation at
a restaurant where they randevued with clients.

9. Two Ukrainians and three Moldovans were rescued in Mersin
the previous week. Luckily one of the victims had seen a
poster advertising the 157 Helpline in Trabzon (her point of
entry) and convinced a client to help her call for help.
(Note: PolOffs had taken the posters to Trabzon (see
reftels) and asked law enforcement and the public prosecutor
to tack up the posters at all points of entry and other
appropriate venues.) The women were rescued by Turkish
gendarmerie and are currently sheltered in Istanbul awaiting

10. The myth that trafficking of women in Turkey only
involves foreign women was debunked with the rescue of two
Turks in Elazig. Unfortunately, both refused to press
charges against their traffickers or be interviewed by IOM.
They have since disappeared.


11. Summary: Both Freedman and Sander-Lindstrom caution
that the number of victims is bound to skyrocket as more
victims are made aware of the 157 Helpline. As each tragedy
and atrocity is uncovered by the 157 Helpline, the absolute
necessity to maintain its funding and support grows ever more
clear. End Summary.

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