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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                        


Turkmenistan is largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and sizeable gas and oil resources. One-half of its irrigated land is planted in cotton; formerly it was the world's 10th-largest producer. Poor harvests in recent years have led to an almost 50% decline in cotton exports. With an authoritarian ex-Communist regime in power and a tribally based social structure, Turkmenistan has taken a cautious approach to economic reform, hoping to use gas and cotton sales to sustain its inefficient economy.

Since his election, President Berdimuhamedow has sought to improve the health and education systems, unified the country's dual currency exchange rate, ordered the

Description: Description: Turkmenistan

redenomination of the manat, reduced state subsidies for gasoline, increased Internet access both in schools and Internet cafes, ordered an independent audit of Turkmenistan's gas resources, and created a special tourism zone on the Caspian Sea. Although foreign investment is encouraged, numerous bureaucratic obstacles from the Nyyzow-era remain.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Turkmenistan is a source country for women trafficked primarily to Turkey but reportedly also to the UAE, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Men and women are trafficked to Turkey for the purpose of domestic servitude and forced labor, specifically in textile sweatshops. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Turkmenistan.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

International Organization for Migration
12 42 08 26
Country code: 993-



Prostitution on the rise

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Ankara, 5 September 2005

[accessed 8 March 2015]

[accessed 27 February 2019]

There is an unprecedented situation in Turkmenistan when [some] husbands, fathers and brothers push their wives, daughters and sisters into illegal ways, including prostitution, because they don't have a job and means to get by,

Even more disturbing, the report alleged that parents had taken to selling their daughters and setting up brothels in their homes in this otherwise traditional society.

International Women's Rights Action Watch - Country Reports - Turkmenistan

IWRAW Director Marsha A. Freeman with the assistance of Cram-Dalton Scholar Natalie Hoover

Prepared for the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 35th Session, May 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

[accessed 27 February 2019]

ARTICLE 6  TRAFFICKING AND PROSTITUTION - “In the case of Turkmenistan, gathering any firm data and conducting interviews, with the exception of basic information from five individuals who had been part of NGOs, proved impossible.  The author experienced this unease directly whilst in Turkmenistan, where many of those attending the roundtable declined to be interviewed face to face, and those who did agree spoke in whispers.  No amount of interviewing skill or sophisticated methodology can overcome a pervasive sense of fear for expressing a point of view.”

 “Because getting out of Turkmenistan is difficult,” she said, “I allowed myself to be smuggled out of here via Iran, but I was told I would have a good job working for an Arab family in Dubai.”  After an arduous road journey across Iran and a Gulf crossing by boat, she found herself working in a Russian syndicate-run brothel in Dubai.  “It was horrific.  I worked all night, every night, for six days, and was beaten if I refused to perform,” she added tearfully.  “I know I was stupid,” she added, “but there’s nothing, nothing, nothing for us here.”


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Turkmenistan

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 28 June 2021]


Workers in construction and rural residents were particularly vulnerable to forced labor and trafficking. Isolated reports suggested that during the year officials might have also coerced farmers to cultivate silkworms under threat of land seizure or assessment of a financial penalty.


In June, Radio Azatlyk reported that children whose parents paid the school administration for 20-day summer educational camps in Lebap Province and Darganatinsky District were engaged in forced labor in cotton and potato fields. Children were forced to work for several days and reportedly were not provided food or water. Children complained to their parents about the labor, but parents did not take action because they feared the school would retaliate and give their children poor grades. Schools told the parents the children would be forced to work until the potatoes were fully harvested in July. Authorities and state-run media denied the abusive treatment of children and instead reported “a happy life for children.”

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


The government forces thousands of students, public employees, and other citizens to participate in the annual cotton harvest with little or no pay. Impoverished residents of rural areas are especially vulnerable to trafficking abroad for forced labor or sexual exploitation, and the government does little to address the problem.

The Protection Project - Turkmenistan [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE TRAFFICKING INFRASTRUCTURE – An especially important social institution in Central Asian societies that seems to have particular bearing on the problem of trafficking is the practice of arranged and forced marriages. This practice may explain why it has been relatively easy for traffickers to deceive young Central Asian women with promises of marriage to rich foreigners.

Finally, it has been suggested that the geographic location of the Central Asian states contributes to the increasing levels of trafficking in persons in the region. In particular, the location of these countries “between the main destination countries in East Asia and the Middle East … make[s] them an ideal recruitment area for traffickers.

International Gender Conference Underway

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, 23 April 2004

[accessed 9 March 2015]

Although the extent of the problem of human trafficking in Turkmenistan is not very high compared to some other Central Asian or former Soviet republics, the fast pace of economic development and the difference in the economic situation between Turkmenistan and some other countries could change this, he said.  "With a recent announcement of more flexible exit procedures there will more and more possibilities for Turkmen citizens to travel abroad," Milovic said.

State Department International Visitor Program (Turkmenistan)

Polaris Project ~ Combating Human Trafficking and Modern-day Slavery, Washington, DC, 14 June 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

[Scroll down to June 14, 2005]

STATE DEPARTMENT INTERNATIONAL VISITOR PROGRAM (TURKMENISTAN) – National Program Coordinator, B. Myles, engaged in a peer exchange of knowledge sharing with a delegation of government officials from Turkmenistan. Topics discussed included the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in serving trafficked persons in the United States, victim identification, and other grassroots anti-trafficking initiatives. This meeting was an important first step in helping to introduce these government officials to the crime of human trafficking as they work to formulate new government policies to address it.

Europe 'ignoring Turkmen human rights abuses'

Jerome Taylor, The Independent, 24 Jun 2006

[accessed 3 May 2012]

The EU has been accused of ignoring human rights abuses in Turkmenistan by considering a trade agreement with the repressive former Soviet republic despite a recent crackdown on political dissidents and human rights activists.

"The EU is being completely hypocritical," he said. "We isolate a country like Belarus, which isn't half as repressive as Turkmenistan but the sad reality is that Belarus doesn't have lots of gas and oil reserves."

"We are profoundly concerned that those detained are at risk of torture and ill treatment," said Holly Cartner, the director of the Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch. "The Turkmen government is one of the most repressive in the world. It's shocking that the European Union could contemplate signing a trade agreement with a government that is so notorious for its human rights violations."

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 7 May 2020]

Turkmenistan remains an extremely repressive country. The government severely restricts all fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedoms of association, expression, and religion. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, his relatives and their associates control all aspects of public life, and the authorities encroach on private life. The government carries out forced evictions without adequately compensating those affected. The government continues to conceal the fate and whereabouts of dozens of people forcibly disappeared following their imprisonment during waves of arrests in the late 1990s and early 2000s, although it has begun to return to families the bodies of several inmates forcibly disappeared years ago who have recently died in custody. Activists and independent correspondents critical of the government face increased intimidation, harassment, physical attacks and imprisonment. The country remains closed to any independent scrutiny..


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – In December 2004 the IOM reported that airport and border officials facilitated the repatriation of a trafficking victim from Turkey, whose traffickers had forcibly taken her passport and identification documents.

There were six known cases of trafficking in persons and one successful prosecution on charges of sexual exploitation, slavery, and encouraging deceitful border crossing.

Victims involved in these cases were reportedly trafficked to Turkey, although Iran was assumed also to be a trafficking destination. NGOs noted that young women from minority ethnic groups were most vulnerable to being trafficked.

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