An author concerned about widespread sexual exploitation in her home country of Moldova has published a novel aimed at raising awareness of the problem.
Stela Brinzeanu’s Bessarabian Nights, a play on Arabian Nights and Bessarabian, the historical name for Moldova, is a fictional tale based on actual events described to her by victims.
It also examines myths and superstition which still influence life in small, rural Moldovan villages.
The book follows two women as they try and find their best friend after she is abducted in Milan and sold into prostitution in Moldova.
The 32-year-old author, who lives in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, published the novel herself.
She moved to the UK a decade ago after visiting Brighton as part of an educational exchange programme.
She said she wanted to escape a country still mired by medieval beliefs and what she calls a 'fatalistic' attitude to a ‘pre-determined’ life.
Ms Brinzeanu grew up in the rural village of Mereseni, 20 miles south-west of the Moldovan capital, Chişinău.
She said: "Growing up there was a young girl in the village who just disappeared one day.
“No-one knew where she went but they had their suspicions.
"Three years later, she returned and I was just so shocked why the community didn't reach out to her but also she didn't want to talk about it."
Ms Brinzeanu, a former Channel 5 employee, left her job to focus on writing and travelled back to Moldova to carry out her research into the widespread problem of sexual exploitation.
"I was given access to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which helps to re-habilitate the victims back into society.” She said.
"I learned from speaking to victims and psychologists of the IOM that sexual exploitation is an impenetrable process and traffickers target women with low self-esteem in rural areas.
The book priced £8.99 in paperback and £3.99 as an ebook. It is available to buy online at Amazon and can be ordered at all major bookstores.