Victims of Labour and Sexual Bondage


In the twenty years since Independence, some110 thousand Ukrainians have become victims of human trafficking. Present economic difficulties only exacerbate the situation, increasing the number of victims. Ukrainian men more and more often end up in labour bondage in Russia, women – in sexual bondage in Turkey.

Hard conditions prompt people to take risks. This year in the Lviv region three criminal investigations over human trafficking have been initiated. Two relate to children who were forced to beg, while the third involved a young woman sent into bondage abroad.

Whereas 5 years ago it was women who were most likely to falll victim to human traffickers, now there are more men. This is due to high levels of labour migration from the Lviv region to Russia and Poland. People feel most trust towards those countries which means that they can easily agree to work offered by strangers.

17 men from Halychyna went to work in Russia with contracts for working in construction, However they were first sent to repair barracks in the tundra where there was no habitation for 200 kilometres. They worked for half a year in the mines and in wood felling, and earned nothing. They were released, with documents returned, and given only the money to get back home.

Olha Kalbus, Coordinator of the West Ukrainian Centre “Women’s Prospects” says that victims of human trafficking suffer serious trauma but very many cannot admit that they are victims of human trafficking.

Virtually two thirds of the inhabitants of Western Ukraine make up a group at risk and can end up trusting crooks.  Katerina Ardanyan, spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration says that according to surveys some 60 percent of people from Halychyna do not know how to protect themselves and not fall victim to human traffickers.  She explains that recruitment mainly takes place by getting information from people they know or even relatives who become links in the change of exploitation.

A new trend has emerged with cases of trading in human organs becoming more frequent. Last year there were 25 such cases. Young people sold their kidneys, received a pittance which was only sufficient for post-operation treatment.

Most victims turn to NGOs in the eastern regions of Ukraine. Last year almost 190 investigations into human trafficking were initiated; this year – 165. One in 10 victims of trafficking is a child.

From the report by Halyna Tereshchuk at

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