In news reports about a horrific court case over the trafficking of women, Slovakia was described as a poverty-stricken land.
Because of this rather disingenuous description the consumerwatchfoundation is asking one simple question… is that a fair description?
Is Slovakia really poverty-stricken?
And do these simple two words – used by some of the British Press – bring back all the negative images the Little Big Country has worked so hard at getting rid of for almost three decades?
There is no doubt that the medieval crime of selling people into sex slavery echoes down the celluloid corridors of those gore-fest films Hostel and Hostel II.
And what happened in the disgusting ghettoes of Glasgow to eight daughters of this burgeoning Central European country is beyond fantasy.
That a Slovak woman was sold for £10,000 outside a branch of Primark at the heart of Glasgow – a city infamous for drunkenness and violence – shows the poverty of humanity, not of the land she came from.
Now a gang is to be jailed for forcing women into slavery and prostitution. The key should be thrown away.
Yet, the Daily Mail said this: “They helped to transport eight young women from poverty-stricken Slovakia to flats in the city’s Govanhill between November 2011 and February 2017 in order to exploit them.”
Govanhill is actually one of the most demonised areas of Glasgow, a place where only last year some residents were investigated after claims that they were selling their own children.
And yet the over-zealous writer ignored the awful reputations of Glasgow and its suburb as they tried desperately to add the colour of darkness to the prose.
The women – who did not speak any English – were watched and never allowed out on their own.
All this is hellish darkness itself and to try to make it darker by condemning all the work that has gone into presenting Slovakia as a place that is making great strides towards ultimate success is simply insulting.
The original Hostel film had a budget of $4.8 million in 2005 and grossed $80,578,934 worldwide. It was written and directed by Eli Roth and executively produced by Quentin Tarantino.
It left Slovakia’s tourism with open wounds that took a long time to heal.
Adding insult to injury, as far as Slovaks were concerned, were images in the film that portrayed Slovakia as a poor, backwards badland where gangs of kids roam the streets, harassing foreigners for a coins.
What makes it all the more insulting is the fact it wasn’t even filmed in Slovakia, the film-makers chose the Czech Republic instead!
The premise of Americans being tortured and killed in Slovakia rankled so much that Roth held a press conference to pour oil on his troubled waters. He realised that Slovaks felt the image portrayed in the film would prevent tourists from visiting their country.
He said: “In talking to Americans, I realized they have absolutely no idea that Slovakia exists.”
And now the Daily Mail has acted as if Slovakia does not exist too. Those two words turned it once again into a frightening fantasy land of privation and shame.
Yet, Slovakia became independent from Czechoslovakia in 1993 and since then it has struggled to break the cycle of poverty.
According to the Phenomenon of Poverty and Economic Inequality in the Slovak Republic, Slovakia has a poverty rate of 13 per cent, equal to about 700,000 people.
Yet, in 2018 an estimated 14.3 million people were in poverty in the UK … 8.3 million working-age adults, 4.6 million children and 1.3 million pensioners.
In the UK poverty is measured as the threshold of 55% of what the ordinary family has available to spend.
In Slovakia, 34.6 percent of the population have a problem dealing with unexpected expenditures, said head of the department of statistics on living standards, Róbert Vlačuha.
Slovakia has established the Institute for Subsistence Law — those whose monthly income is below a minimum fixed amount, are entitled to social assistance benefits.
But ethnic poverty is of course apparent. – Romas are no doubt marginalised and the worst off live in shanty towns today.
Yet what the Daily Mail ignored when it chose to describe Slovakia as poverty-stricken is that 48 per cent of Glasgwegians – 292,000 people – live in 20 per cent of the most deprived areas in Scotland.
How does Slovakia compare to other nations in terms of GDP/debt?
As of October 2019. Slovakia is actually in a very bright position. The UK has a lot higher debt and comes into the international charts of debt at position 24. Whereas Slovakia doesn’t register in the top 50 of debtors. Even Germany is in worse shape than Slovakia. However why is this the case?
Slovaks are traditional very reserved when it comes to finance. Naturally house purchases have been bank supported for decades, more recently new cars are financed, however the notion of defaulting on a debt is horrific for a Slovak. There approach to that fear is not to borrow.
That fear shows in the debt to GDP figures across Europe where Slovakia is nowhere to be seen. In fact, Slovakia does appear just in the top 30 of both EU and non-Eu European countries.
Another factor can be found in the recent report – Eurostat compared total debt per household, compared to the average income per household to produce a debt-to-income ratio.
It is true the debt per household has increase by 2% since the financial crash. However, that only places Slovakia just inside the top 20 country households of debt whereas the UK appears on the list at number seven (according to data from the Money Charity, households in the UK hold an average of £54,080 of debt right now).
The top three slots are held by:
It could also be argued that Slovakia are less than worried when look at figures from the IMF
There figures show 2019 predicted growth as:
UK – 1.2%
Slovak Republic – 2.9%
Germany – 0.7%
Hence the little BIG country is doing rather well in 2019 and could teach many other EU member states how to get their respective houses in order for 2020.