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Kimete

2005 (Narrative date)

Born in Albania, Kimete was trafficked into Italy, where trafficking victims also arrive from Nigeria, Romania, Bulgaria, China, and South America. One NGO estimates that 48 percent of the prostitutes in Italy are from Eastern Europe. Many women are trafficked into richer Western European countries from the poorer Eastern countries, including Albania. The fall of communism in 1991 led to a rise in organized crime in Albania: in 2001 it was estimated 100,000 Albanian women and girls had been trafficked to Western European and other Balkan countries in the preceding ten years. More than 65 percent of Albanian sex-trafficking victims are minors at the time they are trafficked, and at least 50 percent of victims leave home under the false impression that they will be married or engaged to an Albanian or foreigner and live abroad. Another ten percent are kidnapped or forced into prostitution. The women and girls receive little or no pay for their work, and are commonly tortured if they do not comply.

I was born in 1985 in a village in southwest Albania. My biological parents had divorced several months before I was born. Being unable to raise me, my father took my sister who was four, and my mother took me to an orphanage where I stayed until I was four years old. After that, my mother married another man who had four other children and gave birth to another child, my second sister. This second marriage lasted only two years. Again my mother took the only child she had with her and went to live with another man who had no children of his own. This time she decided to take me out of the orphanage. We were four people living in a shack.

This husband of my mother did not have any affection for us; he was always quarreling with my mother, saying he could not stand me being around, and he suspected my mother of continuing to have contacts with my real father. He hit us children, and my mother did not work or provide anything for the family. I had three other siblings from this marriage: two brothers and one sister. My parents did not have money to buy books, so I was not able to attend school regularly. Besides, I was told to pasture the cow, so I was not left time to learn or do my homework. After the third grade, my stepfather started to build a house, and I helped him although I was a small child. The relatives of my mother did not help her because they disliked her for her divorces; we were out of money most of the time.

Once, with the help of my aunt, I met my real father, and at that time my stepfather got so angry that he treated me as if I had committed a crime. It was 7.30 in the evening, and I did not know where to go. I came to Tirana to tell my aunt, and she brought me back home.

When I turned 16 my mother and my father arranged for me to marry a man who was 33 years old and mentally ill. He took drugs every day. After some months he was hospitalized, and I turned back home feeling ashamed, crying all the time for my fate, and thinking that my parents did not love me.

Some months later a salesperson came to buy the products of our garden. He came in to have coffee with my parents and asked for me when he saw me looking depressed. He said that he had a nephew who was living in another city and whose wife had died during childbirth. He said that he could arrange for me to marry him. That same day he brought this so-called nephew for us to see him.

The next day my parents went to that city to see if the nephew’s family lived there, but they did not find anybody at that address. When the salesperson came back again, my parents expressed that they felt he was lying, but he got a taxi and took my parents to that city and showed them a half-finished house, saying that this was his nephew’s house but that his mother was not there because she went to a hospital in Tirana to see her sister. There my parents met only one person, who said that he was the salesperson’s father. My parents were convinced, and that afternoon when the nephew called me he said that his father did not like me, but that it was okay because he had fallen in love with me and he would disobey his father.

The next day he took me to a family, introduced them as his relatives, and left me there. These people used to hide me when they had guests in their house. He was telling me that since his father did not agree with our marriage, that we would live better in Italy. He made me a passport and arranged that another person take me to Italy by speedboat. He took a plane because he said he had documents.

There in Italy he paid 450 euros [$591] for a house and told me that I had to work to pay for the rent and also to help my parents. He told me he would find a job for me and soon brought home a girl to teach me. When I realized what kind of job he was talking about, I refused, saying to him that when someone loves his wife, it would not be acceptable for him to allow her to do this kind of work. He promised me we would buy a house in Tirana and we would live together in Tirana. I accepted and started working with that girl giving all the profits to him. After a week or so I found a picture of him and his wife and started quarreling with him.

He got a telephone call from his father telling him that my mother had made a denunciation and that many persons were arrested, so he had to bring me back. He gave me the ticket and told his brother to bring me back to Durres. A person was waiting for us who took me to his relatives and introduced me. A good man who was their relative felt compassion for me and took me to the police station of my city. 

Narrative as told to the International Organization for Migration, with the Association of Albanian Girls and Women, 2005, in Tirena, Albania.