Up to 100,000 eastern European women have been trapped into forced marriage, labor or prostitution by traffickers who lure the women to European Union countries, an international consultation has found.

The eastern European situation is part of an even greater problem of trafficking. According to one official estimate, 500,000 women from all countries were "trafficked" into EU countries in a single year (1995). Traffickers make between US$200 and US$5,000 per woman.

The consultation—held from November 27 to December 1 at Driebergen, in The Netherlands—denounced trafficking in women as "a moral outrage and a violation of human rights."

Dr Lesley Orr McDonald, associate secretary for women's issues at Action of Churches Together in Scotland and a keynote speaker at the consultation, told Ecumenical News International (ENI): "Trafficking of women into rich countries has probably always been there in some form or another. Our awareness of it is a fairly recent phenomenon.

"It's a terrible thing to say, but there are fashions in [trafficked] women. It has been Asians and blacks. Now it is whites.

"The activity is on a huge scale, with many layers including drugs. It is run by an underworld of very ruthless people."

About 70 women and men from 27 European countries attended the consultation, which was organized by the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Ecumenical Forum of European Christian Women. Representatives came from church groups, women's projects and non-governmental organizations.

Those attending the consultation included CEC's president, Metropolitan Jeremie, from France, and Cardinal Johannis Simonis, president of the Dutch Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference.

The consultation heard that trafficking in women is growing ...

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