Two Russian women in Limassol were detained on Friday during a police raid in connection with illegal prostitution and suspected human trafficking.
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According to media reports, officers from the Crime Prevention Unit spotted a suspicious personal classifies ad online and kept an apartment in the southern town under surveillance. The residence was under watch for several days until cops raided the apartment Friday afternoon and detained two females, described as Russian women in some media reports.
During the raid, officers confiscated €6000 in cash, a number of condoms, various lubricants, and sex toys. Reports also said cops found a small quantity of drugs in the apartment.
The two women were taken to a Nicosia safe house for victims of human trafficking, following a review by officers at a Limassol police station who suspected human trafficking was involved. The officers suspected the women might not have been working alone.
Male associates work undercover, pay with marked bills and have sexual intercourse in order to present evidence in court
Officers from the anti-trafficking unit will take over the case to ascertain whether the two females are victims.
Cops have been stepping up efforts to combat human trafficking in recent months, following international pressure and a scandal back in the summer where police officers were arrested in an illegal prostitution ring.
Police officers have taken a proactive role in identifying possible human trafficking victims, by increasing surveillance of locations and putting tails on suspected pimps as well as working closely with the anti-trafficking unit.
But they have also come under criticism for the way they detain women in the first place, with critics crying foul over male “associates” who generally first have sexual intercourse with women and potential victims before police raids take place.
The head of the police anti-trafficking unit in the Republic of Cyprus, Rita Superman, told media in the past that associates had to work undercover, pay with marked bills and have sexual intercourse in order to present evidence in court.
Superman argued that women were not being victimised any more by this method, since a police raid could bring an end to their ordeal in some cases. She also said background research and investigation is being conducted in advance prior to raids and no minors had been found to be involved during raids.
While prostitution is not illegal in the Republic of Cyprus, trafficking, pimping and public soliciting for sex are offences punishable by law.