First World Problems: An Encounter with Infomercials

Excerpts from tonight’s airing of THE PRICE OF SEX: A documentary on human trafficking. 

“I was locked inside without a passport.  I was inside all the time.  I wasn’t allowed out.  Even the windows were shut.  We were always working.  Sometimes 50 clients a day.  I have the same thoughts now that I did then: I wish I’d never been born.  I’d be better off dead than living like this.”

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“‘It was the Muslim holiday of Ramadan and the Turkish men are not allowed to have sex with anyone but their wives.  So we had no clients.  I woke up, got dressed.  I went to the balcony and the door was open.  I went down the pipe.  But I didn’t get very far.’ She jumped, falling three floors. When she woke up, Jenya couldn’t feel anything below her waist.  She spent nearly a month in the hospital but before she could receive surgery, the pimps were allowed to take her back to the brothel… no one cared that she was partially paralyzed from the fall, or that she defecated on herself.  The clients continued coming, it was business as usual.”

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“There were girls who had been there for six months, a year, three years… They got used to it.  What’s to like there?  That everyone violates and tortures you?  A man gets on top of you, does his business, gets off, and leaves.  It’s pure evil.  Plain and simple.”

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“As you can see, on all the corners are the police, the pimps, and the girls… When you go into the brothels, what’s the first thing you see?  First?  Meat… But that’s not the right question.  Not the first but the last… the last thing you see… is pain… Those girls are new entries.  They’re so young.  Yeah, no more than 20… Fifteen years ago Erina was trafficked to Athens.  Men aren’t the only ones to blame.  As the saying goes: If you lift your skirt, the man will come.  I can’t be alone.  I can’t.  I gotta talk to beat the blues.  When you feel sad, what do you do?  What do I do?  I cry and cry, go out for a smoke… I think… But mostly I go and lie down so I can stop thinking.  I offered to take Erina back to Bulgaria, to the children she left behind.  She turned my offer down.”

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“Who were the clients?  Who?  Arabs, Moldovans, Russians, British, Americans, everyone.  Everyone. Hindus, Pakistans.  From the lowest class to the highest.  Understand? …”

“Men here prefer the new girls who have been used less.  Their bosses slip drugs and ecstasy into their drinks so that the girls are flirtier and more fun.  //  What? Am I saying too much?…”

“Criminals avoid prosecution, it’s the women who bear the burden.  Alessia chose to deal with the consequences.  ‘I will tell my son. They’ll say, ‘Oh, your mom was like that.’ Of course now he doens’t understand but when he’s grown up, I’ll be ashamed.'”

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“The Price of Sex” is written, directed and produced by Mimi Chakarova.  Visit to find out how you can help.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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