The abduction of women and forced prostitution, and the state response (January 1997 - April 2001) [HUN36855.E]

A 25 April 1997 Guardian article states:

The loudspeaker announcement seemed innocent enough: "All girls interested in working in Germany please come to such and such a corner of the field." It was at an open market in Pecs, a town in southern Hungary. Anita, aged 18, went to see. Once there she was bundled into a car and driven to Budapest where she was locked in a flat for three days, raped and beaten. With the complicity of the police and customs, she was then taken to Germany and forced to work in a brothel. The only way to be allowed home was to become pregnant. The pimp knocked out her front teeth when he found out. She now lives with her baby in a shelter for battered women in Budapest.
Stories like hers are becoming increasingly common in a Hungary torn between the grinding poverty of a large part of the population and the conspicuous consumption of the top few per cent....
"When they arrive abroad, their passports are confiscated and they are locked up," says Lenke Feher, a barrister who works for the Hungarian non-governmental organisation Way Out. They are given drugs to make the work more bearable. Unable to speak the language, they are dependent on the pimp. From the stories of the few that escaped, their only chance is to find a victim-support organisation or, very rarely, a kind client. Lenke Feher tells of a girl who managed to walk across the frontier back into Hungary. She reached Budapest, only to be recaptured by her traffickers and returned to a brothel in the Austrian city of Linz.
The young women's shame, and the fear of violence against them and their families, prevents them going to the police.
"The present situation is out of control; it is uncharted," says Lieutenant -Colonel Aniko Balogh of the Budapest office of Interpol. She is the only police officer in Hungary dealing with the illegal trafficking in women and children. She complains that as there is no criminal offence entitled "trafficking", cases that surface are treated as misdemeanours. She admits that the police have no undercover operations against traffickers. Frustrated NGOs say the trafficked women are seen as "whores, not victims".
"Several measures need to be taken now," says Frank Laczko, head of the Budapest office of the International Organisation on Migration. "One simple and cost-effective measure would be an information campaign targeted at the public and governments of this region."

A 12 November 1999 MTI article states:

The International Organisation for Migration, along with the Hungarian Ministries of Home Affairs, Justice, Social and Family Affairs, and Foreign Affairs, is beginning a campaign in Hungary to prevent forced prostitution. IOM director General Brunson McKinley held a press briefing in Budapest on Friday, in which he discussed the objectives. McKinley reported that a nine-month long information campaign has been scheduled for Hungary and Bulgaria, targeted against forced prostitution. The governments of the two countries are also involved. Hungarian Justice Minister Ibolya David said that society as a whole is not sufficiently well informed about the issue to effectively defend itself against forced servitude or prostitution. She expressed the hope that the campaign would help to reduce the number of occurrences.

A 17 March 2000 AFP article states:

The International Office for Migration (IOM) has launched a campaign in Hungary to prevent women being traded as sex slaves, its Budapest representative Argentina Szabados said Friday. The campaign aims to warn women not to be lured by advertisements that pledge attractive work opportunities abroad. "One of the standard methods used by women traffickers is to offer easy work abroad for young and attractive girls. Then they sell applicants or force them into prostitution," she said. Sheer force, taking away the girls' passports or burdening them with imaginary debts are all tactics used by the traffickers to trap the women, she said.
IOM has set up a toll-free telephone hotline with a Hungarian women's protection group, from which callers can obtain information about employment abroad and the potential pitfalls.
"We can advise them what they could do in their own defense," campaign manager Aniko Bakonyi told a press conference.

A 1 January 2001 Jane's Intelligence Review article states:

Hungary has also become incerasingly utilised by criminals involved in the smuggling of illegal immigrants into Europe. Here Hungary has assumed a dual role: as a destination point for many of these migrants (many of whom become involved in prostitution, often controlled by the same criminals who arranged for the transportation); but also as a gateway for those seeking to travel on into Western Europe. Many of these operations are linked to the growing sex industry: migrants often have their passports withheld and are forced into virtual slavery. It is estimated that around a third of prostitutes in Hungary come from abroad. A recent police raid on a hostel in Budapest discovered more than 300 Asian immigrants kept in unsanitary, cramped conditions and subjected to threats, beating and stavation.

No additional information on abduction and forced prostitution in Hungary, nor on the state response, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 17 March 2000. "International Office for Migration Fights Female 'Slave' Trade." (NEXIS)

The Guardian [London]. 25 April 1997. Nick Thorpe. "Field Day for Illegal Hunters; A Conference on Trafficking in Women, that Opens in the Hague Today, Highlights a Growing Problem." (NEXIS)

Jane's Intelligence Review [London]. 1 January 2001. Kelly Hignett. "Hungary Takes on the Mafia." (NEXIS)

MTI (Hungarian News Agency). 12 November 1999. "Campaign Against Forced Prostitution." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases


Internet sties including:

Anti-Slavery International

BBC News Online

Captive Daughters

Equality Now

The Global Centre

International Helsinki Federation

International Women's Rights Action Watch

MADRE - International Women's Human Rights Organization

Sisterhood is Global Institute

World News Connection