Monday, January 25, 2016
New Trends in Human Trafficking as a Consequence of the War in Ukraine
This week I gave the first lecture in my Current Issues in the Post-Soviet Region Lecture Series on "New Trends in Human Trafficking as a Consequence of the War in Ukraine." This lecture was given as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, which was established in 2007, when the U.S. Senate designated January 11th as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The month seeks to raise awareness to human trafficking and culminates in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1st.
The lecture I gave discussed the consequences of the war in Ukraine on human trafficking in that country based on fieldwork and interviews I conducted in 2012-2013 and again in 2015. As a result of the conflict, anecdotal evidence has been reported of the use of child soldiers by the rebel forces in combat as well as forced recruitment/kidnapping of men and boys for exploitation in the armed conflict. There have also been reports of kidnapping of women and girls for the “purposes of sex and labor trafficking” by the anti-government forces. Child begging is also still a problem. There has been a shift in labor trafficking from male victims to female victims since the crisis started. War, displacement, and the economic crisis in Ukraine have led to an increase in the number of people vulnerable to human trafficking. While some of the displaced have fled to Russia, it is no longer the preferred destination for Ukrainian labor migrants as most now prefer Poland or Germany. The at-risk population has increased and the post-conflict situation has fueled the push factors enticing people to leave Ukraine. The IDP crisis has taken the emphasis off of human trafficking in the Ministry of Social Policy. Bureaucrats inside the ministries have changed and the institutional knowledge of trafficking is lacking. New working groups meet more often and are better coordinated. The economic recession has placed a strain on government resources.