WEIGHT: 58 kg
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Maks, a swaggering pimp in this drab town notable only for its endless strip of bordellos, appeared at the hotel room door with an adolescent girl in tow. This is not the kind of relationship that exists between most pimps and prostitutes. Maks literally owns Lena and many other girls who service dozens of men a night at his command.
With civil war threatening to break out between Macedonian Slavs and ethnic Albanians, Maks was encouraged to see prospective new customers. Business was off, and the Greeks who vacationed at nearby Lake Okhrid had failed to turn up for the summer holidays. Video: Special report Nobody comes to Velesta for the scenery. Only two paved roads wind past rows of hastily constructed brick buildings with shops selling produce and Chinese kitsch. Meti, another pimp and the owner of the Coca-Cola and Bela Dona bars just down the street, was eager to show us his girls.
In his late 30s, with slicked-back hair, he is considered a kingpin in the Balkans sex trade. Meti disappeared in the back. We could hear him bellowing at the girls to get into their lingerie and come out front. Frantically, 11 women appeared, still putting on lipstick and eyeliner.
Returning to the Hotel Ekslusiv, where we were left alone with the women, one — year-old Olga — showed us a gruesome bite wound on her breast, inflicted by a client a month before. Throughout the night, women were herded in and out of the hotel by their pimps, who handed them over to waiting clients.
Inside a room and away from their owners, the women spoke cautiously, turning up a television set to drown out our conversation in case the pimps were listening on the other side of the door. They are good if they just have sex. Sometimes they bring me a present. The brothel owners in Velesta hand out their cards to clients. Sometimes a mistress will enter into business with the pimps, who pay her handsomely to return home and recruit more girls with false promises of well-paid work in Europe.