21-year-old A. went to Dubai with her sister N. Her sister, known as Klara to the locals, is still there.
We met A. in Yerevan. Her mother told us how one day she met a man called Vagho, who lived in the Yerrord Mas neighborhood in Yerevan . "When I told him that my girls weren't working, he told me he could help them find a job in Greece , picking oranges," she said. He introduced her to Sirush, a woman who lived in Bangladesh (a neighborhood in Yerevan ). "Her name is Sirush, but she is also known as Gayane," A's mother explained.
"My sister and I went to Moscow on February 14, 2004 " A. went on with the story. "A guy named Ara met us there. He was nervous, always looking around. In one room there were eleven girls from different places. There was one girl who had gangrene in her leg, and was also kind of retarded. They sent her back. There was a guy there, too, called Sevo."
In Moscow , the girls' passports were exchanged for Russian ones. In her new passport, twenty-one-year-old A. became thirty-one.
"At that point, they split us up. At the Dubai airport, we went different places. Marietta took me. When I found out what they brought me for, I told them that I was a virgin, and wouldn't do that kind of thing. They didn't believe me. They brought a doctor, who verified that I was indeed a virgin. I was crying the whole time, and telling them I'd commit suicide, that I'd throw myself from the third floor. We were living on the third floor. Marietta said she had already spent $5,000 on me, and she needed it back before she could let me go. I realized that I had been sold.
"They kept beating my sister, and any of the girls who disobeyed them. Ali, a tall Arab with long hair, would do the beating. Afterwards, Marietta paid him," A. told us.
A. was given to a sheikh named Mohammed. As A. tells it, she ran away from the sheikh's house. But according to Armenian prostitutes we spoke to in Dubai , Marietta sold A. to the sheikh for $20,000, since she was a virgin. Later, Marietta gave A. $5,000 and she came back to Yerevan .
Another one of the girls in Moscow was from Yerevan . She was from an extremely poor family who lived in a shack on the outskirts of town. Again, the mother was told she was going to Greece to pick oranges, and the girl was recruited by Sirush from Bangladesh .
When the girl was still in Moscow , her brother somehow found out that his sister was going to Dubai and that Sirush was responsible.
" I went to Sirush and told her that if I didn't get my daughter back within 24 hours, I would go to the police, " the girl's mother said. "She panicked and told me that she'd bring her back in two days. And my girl came home after a few days. Otherwise she would have gone and perished. She was two months pregnant at the time."
We decided to look for Sirush, to find out if she was still recruiting girls. We had a student from the journalism department at Yerevan State University call Sirush, saying she had gotten her number from a friend, who with Sirush's help, was currently working in Dubai.
The student went to meet Sirush and Nelli in Bangladesh . She told them she was in dire need of money, and said that her family was in debt. We secretly recorded the entire conversation. First, Sirush talked about how much work she did.
"I've sent more than a hundred people to the Emirates. They were from 16 to 27. I don't take anyone older. I remember Suzy from Kirovakan, Kiso, Lilo, Flori, Hasilko, Armine, Anna from Yerevan.
"I've been doing this for a long time now. The people I like, I sent them one place. The people I don't, they're going somewhere else. I try to send them separately, so it won't be too obvious at the airport. First I send them to Moscow , where I have five or six people who take turns meeting them. They have connections at the airport, they're sort of a mafia there."
Sirush then told the student the rules. " I'll talk about you with Nano, my cousin from Kirovakan. If she says OK, then you can fly tomorrow. She's staying in Dubai , in Bardubai, a rich neighborhood. She rents three houses and supervises 20-25 people. She is rich, has a car, everything. It'll cost me $3,000 - $4,000 to get you to Dubai . You'll be met in Moscow and they'll get you a new passport. After that you'll go to Dubai . There, how much you earn, what happens to you, is up to you. Maybe you'll be standing there, lost and confused. Nano's no cheap Mama Rose, who's going to put you there and [expletive]."
Nelli interrupted to say that the girls had very good living conditions in Dubai . "Go, you'll see the life. Live your life. Whatever you eat and drink, whatever you wear is free. And you'll have money too," she said enthusiastically.
"What are going to do here? If you go there, you won't want to come back. We are close with the girls' parents, their mothers come to see us, and we go their houses. There's no way we could trick anybody, kidnap anybody from the street. You don't need anything [to go to Dubai ]. All you need is your passport and some food and cigarettes. You go and they'll give you clothes, drinks. I sent my own daughter!"
At the end of the conversation, they decided on a day for the student to fly to Moscow .
In Moscow the Armenian pimps have their own people working for them. They are an important link in the Armenian sex trade. When we were in Dubai in June 2004, the prostitutes we knew told us that in the police had arrested the men who were sending girls to Dubai in Moscow , and that the next party of Armenian girls wouldn't be able to come to the UAE. We called the police in Yerevan the same day, and were told that the arrest had indeed taken place.
As a result of a joint action between Armenian and Russian law enforcement agencies in Moscow , a group of Armenians had been arrested trying to send Armenian women to the Emirates. But soon after they were brought to Armenia , the men were released. When we asked an officer of the law why, he said, "They probably paid a lot of money."
These are the men who get the fake passports and transport Armenian women to Dubai . Dozens of Armenian prostitutes told us their names. But these men are still free today.