A couple of years ago I had a conversation with a woman who had been trafficked from Ukraine. When I met her she had the most beautiful, contagious smile and long blonde hair. She praised God constantly and spoke of His redeeming love and mercy.
Lena had been deceived by a guy and was eventually smuggled into Greece where she endured day after day of terror, abuse and rape. I don’t remember all the details but she was one of very few that was able to escape her life of horror.
Ukrainian women are known and sought after worldwide for their beauty. Unfortunately this also means that sex trafficking is a terrible reality in the country.
Here are some of the statistics and facts taken from theA21campaign.org, an organization that is working to see the end of sex trafficking:
- There are 1.39 million victims of commercial sexual servitude worldwide3.
- Over 25 percent of sex trafficked victims are trafficked from Southern and Eastern Europe4.
- 90% of victims trafficked into the European Union member states will end up in the sex industry5.
- Tragically, only 1-2 percent of victims are rescued, and only 1 in 100,000 Europeans involved in trafficking are convicted6.
Â Ukraine- A Key Source
Ukraine is a source country for trafficked women, and is currently one of the largest exporters of women not just to the European Union, but also to the Middle East and South East Asia.10Â The “exotic beauty” of Ukrainian and Russian women has made them the most valuable commodities in the current international sex trade11. Over 420,000 Ukrainian women between the ages of 15 and 27 have been trafficked in the past decade12, just less than the 440,000 people in Ukraine with HIV, considered one of the most severe HIV/AIDS epidemics in Europe13. One study reveals that one in every 10 Ukrainian persons knows someone in their community who has been trafficked abroad.14
Ukraine is also increasingly becoming a destination country for trafficked victims, as its popularity as a sex tourism destination grows. These victims originate from South East Asia, Africa, and other Eastern European states.
In addition, Ukraine suffers from a huge domestic trafficking situation. Unofficial numbers state that there are 250,000 prostitutes in Ukraine, 200,000 of whom are in the industry against their will and could most likely be classified as domestic traffick victims.15Â Domestic trafficking is not just for sexual exploitation, but also for organ removal and labor exploitation.
The statistics are overwhelming, but each number represents that many faces, stories, souls. Each one is important to God and therefore MUST also be important to you and I. And while the fight may be difficult, it it necessary for the sake of others like Lena.
Thankfully there are many men and women who are standing up on behalf of these victims and fighting for their lives. It isn’t enough that others are involved though, we all need to be a part of seeing this end.
Visit thea21campaign.org for more information, for resources and a few ways you can help fight sex trafficking.