Title: The Natashas
Author: Victor Malarek
Number of Pages: 320
Rating: 5 out of 5 bookmarks!
Alright, I loved this book! I’m just going to preface this review with saying that I LOVED THIS BOOK! The book was not only largely informative, but also overwhelmingly sad at times or overwhelmingly frustrating. There were times that I just wanted to throw my hands up and ask why – why does life have to be like this, why does this have to happen to these girls, why isn’t there anyone out there to take action, especially someone with a strong capability to do so!
To begin with, the book covered a lot of ground in explaining just how awful things were for these girls, the girls who have been picked up and illegally and trafficked into sexual slavery. You can read below for my initial feelings about this book as well as some passages from early portions of the book. However, since the last time I talked about it, the part of this book that struck me most was the mention of just who is perpetrating these horrible crimes. American soldiers abroad, business men from all over the globe and, perhaps most sickening, are the UN peacekeepers in Bosnia who, while stationed on peacekeeping missions, not only visited the brothels of trafficked women, but also provided early tip-offs to bar owners about impending raids. Those within the UN or other NGOs who found it absolutely necessary to speak up and end the problem were relegated to far-off departments or merely fired completely, usually under completely bogus reasoning. It struck me as horrible that those whose job it was to protect and bring peace to a war torn nation are perpetrating some of the most henious war crimes possible.
The second issue that struck me was the ranking system (which is, to be frank, complete bullshit) that the US has devised for ranking the trafficking states of foreign nations. The tier system, which consists of three levels, is for those countries with little trafficking problems (tier one), those who are taking steps to mend trafficking problems in their countries (tier two) and those who have done nothing to try and solve the problems of human trafficking within their countries (tier three). The problem with this is the completely false representation is that the United States has given more thought to their political relations with a given country than the actual level of trafficking in those countries. On tier three? Cuba. On tier two? Japan, Russia, and other Israel. All of which are countries with HUGE numbers of trafficked girls.
The last part of the book that I found most interesting (within the book, the issues I bring up are featured in a different order) is the country profiles of those countries with huge numbers of trafficked women. For example – Israel, where prostitution is illegal and where the religiosity of the country should prevent such horrible civil rights violations; instead, some of the largest frequenters of the brothels and massage parlors featuring trafficked women are members of the holy class. They push their prayer shalls aside, tuck back their sidelocks, and debase women who are suffering incredibly, far from home, engaging in activities they’ve never dreamed of. The hypocrisy is sickening. Although there are mentions in the book of those who try to help these women (whether by taking them off the streets, as does one Catholic priest with a large land holding) to those who word at a legislative level to try and solve the problems of trafficking in general (as in those who work in the NGOs). But the overwhelming feeling of the book was that this is a problem that is wrong, is severe, and most likely not going to be going away anytime soon.
Personally, I loved this book. However, there were some issues about half-way through. It always happens when I’m reading non-fiction — I hit a wall and just kind of lose my steam. All the numbers begin to blur together and I begin to develop a little bit of a headache. But I was able to push through it. Because this book was just too hard to put down. The stories from the girls, the excuses from the men, the problems facing everyone trying so hard to get rid of this problem. It’s a lot to handle, don’t expect a happy book. But its a problem I think we all need to know about – without knowledge, there can be no solution. Now or ever. This book was read for Eva’s World Citizen challenge, and I think it fits the contest beautifully – a good world citizen should know, should be aware, that this is a huge issue.