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During this time, she has helped hundreds of women and young girls who were trafficked into prostitution.Sometimes, she goes out and rescues them from their traffickers herself.And the victims are getting younger and younger, according to Iana."I am now setting up a shelter in the city of Cluj in the north. "You'll find nine-year-old girls working the streets."The traffickers put make-up on their faces and dress them up provocatively.But you can still see that they are very, very young."But to do this in a legal way, I had to have an NGO. Because I didn't have space at home, I rented a flat where I could shelter the girls. Upstairs are bedrooms, downstairs a living room with a television and drawings of trees on the wall.I decided to live with them, and that was a good thing because this way I learned a lot about the needs victims have."It was a tough decision and meant giving up her comfortable life in Australia."I also had a teenage son who had agreed to only come for a year with me to Romania so I could work with street children," she says."But in the end, he understood that these girls didn't have anyone to take care of them and he was willing to share me with them."'Her ear was cut off with scissors'While Iana is talking, the girl who just arrived has settled on the sofa and is already chatting with the other girls - all teenagers. Inside are also Iana's office and a workshop with sewing machines and jewelry made by the girls that are displayed, hanging on a board."It's important that they learn crafts," Iana says.It's heartbreaking and nobody does anything about it."Iana opened the country's first specialised shelter for victims of sex trafficking in 1998, before the problem was widely known.
There are photographs of girls who have been in her care on the shelves. The 57-year-old has a resolute air and lively blue eyes."Outrage - that's what drives me," she says.But the problem was, there were no shelters."So she called child protection."One of their people came to the police station and, in the presence of the girls, he said: 'I am sorry, but I cannot put these whores in an orphanage because they will set a bad example for the other children.'"During a medical examination, all three girls were found to have a venereal disease and had to spend a few days in hospital.When, years later, she went back to Romania for a holiday, she asked about street children in Bucharest."Somebody said to me: 'Yes, we have street children here. The best thing to do would be to seal off the manhole covers and set the sewers on fire.' I was deeply shocked when I heard that."Returning to Romania Back in Australia, Iana couldn't shake that memory, so she decided to return to Romania for a year to work in orphanages and help the street children living in sewers.She was in one of those orphanages when, one day, the police called."They said: 'We have three prostitutes here.
"I'm angry at the people who do this, who beat up a young girl, rape her and force her into prostitution so she'll be traumatised for life. It's so unjust."Shelter for sex trafficking victims Romania is the European Union country with the highest number of reported victims of human trafficking.