All appeals to date that this evil stop have fallen through and how long things will remain like this is unknown. No one wants to get involved in prognoses of this kind because law and order disappeared a long time ago, and it appears that there is no real wish on the part of the forces responsible for peace and order to contain the bullies and bullying.
What is flourishing the most, probably because of the scent of the approaching spring, is prostitution. There are more and more girls for entertainment, as well as places in which they "work". Some come of their own free will; others are forced to do so. Some are locals, Albanian women, while others are from abroad, mainly from the Eastern bloc countries: from Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria...
The inventory is world-class, from teenage novices to ladies with extensive experience in the world's oldest profession. Under the "red lanterns" the competition is increasing, and the pimps are turning over more and more money. Because the price of half an hour of "entertainment" has risen to approximately 100 German Marks.
The main customers are, of course, soldiers from the peacekeeping forces of the United Nations who arrived in Kosmet in the middle of last year. The ladies of the evening followed them here like seagulls following ships at sea. To lighten their leisure hours and their nostalgia for their homeland.
"Here one can earn good money," declared Katarina, a 22 year-old Ukrainian woman.
She also confided to the reporter that she came to Kosmet, where she had never been before, from Bulgaria. In the meanwhile she worked in Macedonia for a short while.
Her friend, and slightly older countrywoman, Lyudmila, was, she says, sold five times during her illustrious career. She arrived in Kosmet from Istanbul.
The price of girls varies but it is generally between four and five thousand marks. The Czech agency CTK recently published that, besides Albanian criminals, some Serbs are participating in this business. "This is one domain in which the Serbs and Albanians are working together," claims a person with good knowledge of the situation.
The girls generally arrive as strippers or dancers and later "change professions".
The arrival of the "peacekeepers" last July changed much in the life of Kosmet and its residents.
"Then, very quickly, many buildings began to transform into classic bordellos. The cafes and bars which were first in securing "their" girls were quickly joined by many private houses. And it has not stopped," stated an officer from the Italian military contingent.
He also claims that crime and prostitution have become most rampant in the south of Kosovo which borders on Macedonia and Albania. Many prostitutes have come from "the land of the eagles" and there are many pimps there, as well, who have international reputations. These are employers who, besides Kosmet, send girls to the European West. This was recently confirmed by the Brussels press which claimed that in their country there are already several hundred Albanian prostitutes.
In the prostitution business there are few rules but one is strictly followed: the lion's share of the income goes to the pimp. Always more than a half. The girls are satisfied if they are left with 40 percent of the amount paid for "service".
"The white slave trade" is not abating. Most probably it will continue because this problem is not a priority for us," says Roma Batachariya from UNMIK, in charge of woman's issues.
According to Yugoslav law prostitution is forbidden. However, because anarchy rules in Kosmet, there is no one to put out the "red lanterns". Their light, in itself, is the symbol of a state of chaos which has lasted for years.
A few days ago Italian soldiers freed twelve girls from one house near the airport of Slatina. They were kept as sex slaves, and their main clients were "peacekeepers". The majority of the ladies were from Eastern Europe and arrived in Kosmet from another destination, that is, they were "guests" in two other European countries before arriving here.
It is clear that an international division of approximately 50,000 soldiers wearing the insignia of the world organization is very attractive to the prostitutes. In Pristina, Urosevac, Gnjilane and other cities there can be shortages of everything except "girls for just one night". When some leave, others take their place. And so on, round and round. The soldiers pay, because their wallets are so deep that it is unimaginable for the local Albanians and the remaining, rare Serbs. That is where the price of 100 German Marks and more for less than an hour of "relaxation" at one of the bordellos comes from.
The chief of the UN mission for migration in Pristina, who freed the above-mentioned prostitutes, says that they are terrified of revenge by their respective pimps. These "employers" are even threatening members of the mission because of what they have done. Their messages are more than clear: no one is allowed to get involved in their business.
"The Times", at the same time, discovered that the most frequent guests of the bordellos are Americans and Italians whose rules of service are more liberal than those in effect for Russians and the British. It is interesting that deals are made very easily and that there is no fear of AIDS or sexually transmitted diseased. Evidently, these do exist.
Many foreign reporters, writing on these matters, recorded that the prostitutes in Kosmet have "no medical protection" unlike their colleagues in the West.
The Albanian pimps in Kosmet are wholeheartedly assisted in procuring "fresh meat" by their countrymen from western Macedonia and Albania. A large number of "ladies of the evening" arrived from these areas to Kosmet for lower prices than those outside the Balkan region.
For all "imported" girls the rule is that first they must be paid off, and then they begin to take some of the money for themselves. How long the pay off period is going to last is never known in advance. Everything is in the hands of the pimps and various criminal gangs.