How the sex industry is now brutally exploiting the Ukraine war
The war in Ukraine is claiming many victims, and human trafficking in Ukrainian women has also increased sharply, according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Since the beginning of the war, online searches for sexual services and pornographic depictions of Ukrainian women and girls have been particularly booming. According to the OSCE, the search figures have increased by up to 600 percent.
The perpetrators are targeting victims who are particularly vulnerable, such as pregnant women and children. In an interview with “Welt”, OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid said that the victims were often baited with false promises on the Internet. They would be abused in private households in receiving countries or be intercepted directly at the border by undercover human traffickers. Organized crime is often involved.
“These unscrupulous criminals then meet people who need help, have to earn money, don’t speak the language in the new country and are often traumatized by the war,” said Schmid.
The business is lucrative and the perpetrators often go undetected
But in addition to sexual exploitation, there is also a growing trend towards forced crime, forced begging and sham marriages. According to the OSCE, annual profits have quintupled over the past 15 years to around $150 billion a year.
The organization assumes that there are 25 million victims worldwide every year, and only 10,000 cases would be reported at all. And the number of unreported cases is huge. Because often those affected do not even know that the criminal offense of human trafficking affects them. It is difficult to identify the victims at all, and at the same time the perpetrators often do not have to fear prosecution.
“Often those affected do not feel like victims, they are afraid to go to the police or usually do not make any statements there. There are also language barriers, fear of reprisals, social isolation, uncertain residence status or ethnic reasons,” said LKA spokesman Uwe Keller of “shz”.
Neighboring countries should be sensitized
Even before the war, Ukrainian women were among the most common victims of human trafficking in the EU. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime reported that Ukrainian victims are particularly often smuggled to Russia or Poland. Overall, however, they were able to locate affected women in 27 other countries.
To counter human trafficking, the OSCE is now involved in a “Be Safe” campaign. She warns people who want to leave Ukraine about the scams of human traffickers and provides a hotline. The OSCE is also working with Ukraine’s neighboring countries to raise awareness of the issue.
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