One extraordinary woman who took on military contractors to try to protect teenage girls trafficked for their use!
As not all member states provide peacekeeping personnel, the United Nations turns to private security firms for that support. DynCorp was one of these companies that pay high wages to temp those with law enforcement experience into peacekeeping roles. Being a peacekeeper is a high-profile role with opportunities to exploit the most vulnerable. Add diplomatic immunity, and you’ve created roles that will attract criminally abusive personalities like flies. Private security firms do not always use rigorous background checks – so it would only be surprising if that didn’t create a playground for worse types of criminals.
“‘Hi y’all” Jim called. ‘Don’t start the party without me.’ Jim had greasy gray hair and tobacco-stained teeth and was wearing nothing but swimming trunks, which showcased a beach-ball belly and stark white legs. He tromped straight to the beer, then splashed his way into the pool, all the while telling us that he had already been on one peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and had liked it so much he was signing on for another year. Then, in the same sentence in which he described how scenic Bosnia was, he said, ‘And I know where you can get really nice twelve-to-fifteen-year-olds.’ The hum of the pool heater filled the awkward silence that followed. The others glanced around, then looked at me, the only woman in the group… I must have misheard, or perhaps missed a part of the conversation that would have somehow put his comment into context. I tried to convince myself that this had to be the case. It must be the case, because any other alternative would not only be repulsive but wildly illegal. DynCorp – now riding high on its coveted position as one of the largest government contractors- certainly would not have renewed the contract of a boasting pedophile.” I think this was grooming. Jim was checking to see if anyone would object – will it be more difficult than last time? Let’s see if the only woman will say anything.
Then at the end of her time with DynCorp, a colleague, Carl, offered Kathy a lift. “He told me his girlfriend had left him. I figured he had been trying to maintain a long-distance relationship with a woman back home and she just grew tired of being so far apart. But then he sighed and said, ‘Yep, she ran away.’ I did not understand. ‘She’s a local girl,’ he explained. ‘Did she go back to live with her family?’ I asked, still confused, but thinking she was probably a language assistant or secretary who worked in our offices. ‘Well, she’s not exactly from Bosnia. I think her passport says Romania or Moldova or something….’ His voice trailed off, and he looked helpless.
I could not believe what I was hearing. I looked straight at him.
‘Carl, where did you meet her?’ ‘At the Como Bar.’ My eyes narrowed. ‘Is it possible she’d been trafficked into Bosnia?’
‘Oh, I don’t know about that, Kathy,’ he said dubiously, ‘I bought her from Tanjo, he’s the owner of the Como.’… I clutched my armrest, digging in my nails. I knew of Tanjo-he was one of the most notorious traffickers in the region. The Human Rights Office had been after this elusive man for several years – and all the while DynCorps’s very own Carl had been having up-close-and-personal dealings with him?
‘Tanjo gave her to me for 6,000 Deutsch Marks,’ Carl continued as if he were talking about a puppy. ‘I kept her in my apartment, and I wanted to marry her and bring her back to the States. But she ran away yesterday, and she took my mobile phone. I’d at least like my phone back.'”
When you can’t trust the peacekeepers, who can you trust?