Saturday, November 13, 2004

Another Balkan Femme Fatale

21-year old Ukrainian Olena Popik was one of many young East European women who dreamed about well-paid jobs in West only to wake up as prostitutes. Unlike other such women, who had been ignored by everyone except of handful of idealists and activists, Olena Popik had the sad honour of becoming a media sensation in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The price for that was her life. One week ago she died in Mostar hospital, having the symptoms of AIDS, syphilis and hepatitis C.

Few hours before her death she was brought to hospital by her "employers" who had, according to media reports, kept her in one Mostar cellar. Police sources claim that she was "active" only ten days before her death.

All that was enough for medical authorities in Herzegovina to issue warning to her potential clients. Sheer number of those clients, the alleged price of her services (cca. 50 € per night) and newly-established custom of local students and teenagers to "learn the trade" by using prostitutes point towards major AIDS epidemic in this part of the world.

One of the places that might be affected is Split. Olena Popik and women like her used to operate in small town on the border between Herzegovina and Dalmatia. There, in the isolated bars and night clubs, many citizens of Split and other Dalmatian towns felt far away from their small communities where everyone knows everyone and where any vice can't be hidden for too long. For the same reasons, Ukrainian, Albanian and other "expendable" East European women are preferred over local "talents".

Medical authorities in Herzegovina are desperately trying to locate 360 clients that could have been infected. They are unlikely to find all of them, because many Bosnians and Croatians feel uncomfortable about having tests and thus potentially exposing themselves to shame in their close-knit conservative communities. Most of those who do the tests prefer medical facilities in neighbouring Croatia and Serbia.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make it sound as if she was a volunteer prostitute that caused illness to innocent men. She was a sex slave raped and exploited by men who didn't see a person but an object for fun. I hope those men that slept with her die fast before the infect others.

1:44 AM  
Blogger ntcurran said...

I agree. Discusting rapists who abused a dying woman might have gor infected! If they were likely to spread it, i'd say leave the bastards to die.

11:22 AM  

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