Locals Helpless As Sex Tourism Hits Georgian Black Sea Village
GONIO, Georgia -- Every summer, thousands of vacationers flock to Gonio, a picturesque village on Georgia's Black Sea coast popular for its pristine beach and its well-preserved Roman fort.
In recent years, however, an entirely different type of attraction has been drawing tourists to Gonio.
Locals say their once peaceful village has turned into a prostitution hub that sees hundreds of foreign women, mostly from Central Asia and the North Caucasus, descend on Gonio in the summer months.
The sex workers appear to cater chiefly to Turkish men, who do not require visas to cross into Georgia. Gonio lies a mere 4 kilometers from the Turkish border.
Local residents complain the scantily clad women openly solicit for clients in the streets and flag down cars on the village's main road, which runs between the Turkish border and Georgia's main Black Sea resort of Batumi.
"Everyone in the Ajara region knows what problems we face here in Gonio," one local says. "These Uzbek women roam around the village, they don't care whether there are children nearby. Together with Turks, they have taken over Gonio, and possibly the whole of Batumi." (...)