Russian Women and Human Trafficking
Young Girls, all over Russia, get up in the mornings and expect something new from their day. Many try to find some kind of work, some way to make money to support their families. Many of those girls have alcoholic fathers and out of work mothers. Many people in Russia are suffering from a very hard life, it’s very difficult to find a job. According to geographic. org, “144 million people live in Russia, 11. 5% of the population are unemployed. 28. 6% of the population live below poverty line”. As maintained by the U. S. Department of State, “Millions of Russian workers are underemployed. Unemployment is highest among women and young people”.
Through Human Rights Watch, I learned that “Until recently, women made up approximately half of Russia’s work force”. However, due to “the overall dislocation of the Russian economy”…numerous people found themselves unemployed and in need of work in “market that no longer values their skills”. “In many regions of Russia, women’s unemployment exceeds 80 percent… Scholars monitoring the rates and causes of unemployment maintain that actual unemployment is much higher. According to the federal Department of Employment, only 25 percent of the unemployed even try to register as unemployed” (1).
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What does this mean for Russian women? This means that she is at her most vulnerable state, open for predators just waiting to jump at the chance to steal her, manipulate her, lure her into a world that will eat her whole and spit her out looking old, worn out, and many times dead. These predators, usually mafia, tend to look for young, attractive girls to lure or kidnap into the trade of human flesh. What many people don’t realize is that these young, poor, and naive girls typically don’t know that such a devastating thing could ever happen to them.
The trafficking of women for sexual slavery is an organized business, these girls are taken from all over Russia. The girls are sent everywhere around the world. As stated by Victor Malarek, in his book, The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade, “They are the latest It Girls in the burgeoning business of sex… They (are sent to) Austria, Italy, Belgium… Holland… South Korea, Bosnia… Japan… Canada and England. They are locked up as sex slaves in apartments in the United Arab Emirates, Germany Israel and Greece… (And also sent to) the United States” (3).
The techniques used to trick the girls to come abroad with these men are many. Kidnapping occurs most frequently in rural parts of Russia. There is also the use of deception, which is the best and most frequently used lure in Russia. Many girls are tricked by ads in papers that look very legitimate, as Malarek states “Some ads even appear to be officially sanctioned, bearing logos of the American Stars and Stripes or the Canadian Maple Leaf. ” (10). In other parts of the Former USSR, there are ads in newspapers for jobs such “as waitresses, models, nannies, dishwashers and maids” (Malarek 10).
As Sietske Altink writes in her book, Stolen Lives: Trading Women Into Sex And Slavery, “Another…trick is to give woman false job offers from existing companies“ (125-126). So the girl not only knows that the company exists, she truly believes that the company is legit, she believes that it will be her salvation, only to find out that the job was never really there for her, that documents were forged, that people were corrupt and that all of the promises that were made were not only false but were done to lure her into a sex slave trade.
There are also “recruiters” who seem to be offering good jobs overseas to help these women and their families. Unfortunately, these so called good jobs are all fake; some recruiters go as “far as to set up “career day” booths at universities in Russia” (Malarek 10). A girl might feel a lot safer in a university to believe a woman who speaks of being able to make $2,500 a month in Canada or America as a house cleaner or a waitress.
So no wonder that more then 175,000 women a year believe the recruiters that the jobs being offered are real and will help their lives and their mothers or sisters. The sad truth is that 95% of the cases with jobs being offered are false. (Malarek, 10). Fred Weir, a writer for the Christian Science Monitor, elaborates in his article titled “Russia Battles Its Sex Trade”, he writes: “The Angel Coalition estimates at least half a million Russian women have experienced this ordeal (of being forced into the sex trade) over the past decade, in some 50 foreign countries” (2).
What that means is that in the past decade, half a million women or more were taken out of Russia, by force or through manipulation to other countries to be forced into prostitution. Tactics that are also used into luring women to forced into prostitution include the Mafia using beautiful women pulling up in Luxury cars, covered in fur coats, jewelry and designer clothes that have naive teenage girls crowd around asking questions of how the women earned so much money. The woman tells the girls how her job as a nanny helped her make a lot of money, ow she met an American or Canadian man who married her and how she can help these girls by finding them similar jobs, these are all lies of-course, but if the well dressed sexy lady recruits a number of girls, then the mafia promises to give back her children and maybe finally escape out of the hell she has been enduring. The car, money, jewelry, fur coat and whatever else she is wearing to look prosperous will be returned to the mafia for later use with another older woman to wear to convince the next another batch of young girls how awesome it is to work abroad and how she knows just the right people for the young hopefuls to talk too.
Besides using kidnapping, deception and recruiting to get these girls, there are also many women and young girls who are sold to the mafia by relatives or long life friends that were extremely trust. These women are not seen as human beings, they are treated horribly, they go in as mere children and they come out sick, hurt, emotionally stunted, terrified, maimed or just dead. They are slaves, they are told what to do, what to wear, when to go to the bathroom, when to go to sleep. Many girls have scars of cigarette burns on their bodies.
When girls are first brought to a different country many times there are potential buyers who want to, in Anna Eva Radicetti’s, words: test drive the women,…. ” Anna Eva Radicetti’s, a manager of Counter Trafficking Return and Reintegration project of the international organization for Migration, elaborates in Malareks’ book by saying that “They are sex-tested by each buyer. They want to see for themselves what the girls can do in terms of sex performance… When they (the girls) are not being used.. the young hostages are poked and prodded like cattle” (Malarek 30).
They have to stand naked for hours a day while men come and look them over. They look at their breasts, the color of their skin, and check and see if they have rashes or pimples. The girls have to dress up to look like prostitutes and put on makeup. Those who resist are isolated, beaten and terrorized. It’s even more humiliating for them if they are considered ugly. They are treated worse then animals with what they are forced to do. You have a full range of traffickers, from cruel to vicious (Malarek 31). The girls are literally in a terrifying hell, their passports and ocuments are taken form them, forced to live in locked rooms and under constant guard. The men “break in” the girls by raping and sodomizing them in front of each other while the rest cry. For many girls, being broken in is such torture that suicide is their only escape and many, many girls do take their own lives while in captivity. There was a very beautiful and strong willed girl that refused to have sex with the owners and refused to be raped anally. She was treated dreadfully, two of the owners tried their hardest to make her do things and she did not cooperate at all, she blatantly refused.
So they beat her and they burned her all over her arms with cigarettes and she still refused. The men were getting very agitated and “kept forcing themselves on her”(34), after all of that she still would not allow it and still fought back, so “They hit her with their fists. They kicked her over and over” (34). They beat her and tortured her so badly that the girl went unconscious. “She just lay there and they still attacked her anally”(34). When the guys were done, the girl did not move at all, and they saw that “She wasn’t breathing”(34). She was dead. So they “They simply carried her out” (33-34).
This modern slavery is very profitable though; everybody makes a huge amount of money using these girls. There is a Moscow news article that helps illustrate that point it is titled “Russia, CIS World’s Second Biggest Human Trafficking Market — UNICEF, the deputy head of the Russian health and social Development Ministry’s department, Marina Gordeyeva, said “Trafficking in humans is one of the most profitable businesses in the criminal world and makes 7 billion U. S. dollars. ” The girls themselves, of-course, get nothing at all, they are tied to a debt bondage. According to Anti-Slavery International, ‘A person enters debt bondage when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment of a loan, or of money given in advance. Usually, people are tricked or trapped into working for no pay or very little pay (in return for such a loan), in conditions which violate their human rights. Invariably, the value of the work done by a bonded laborer is greater that the original sum of money borrowed or advanced’…Debt bondage has been defined by the United Nations as a form of “modern day slavery”… and is prohibited by international law”(1).
However, whenever there is money to be made, there are ways to skate around the law and neglect the agony experienced by these girls. If the girls try to go for help from the police, they themselves might be arrested for prostituting. And in some countries, that is a crime punishable by death. When they try to explain what truly happened, they are either not believed or the girls realize that a lot of these fine policemen come into their particular brothels, off-duty and at night, to rape them so how are they are not going to be able to help them.
Fine, so the police of other countries don’t help, what about the policemen of Russia? Lets say that that girl runs to the police of some other country, the police convict her and deport her, well when she got home she should be safe, unfortunately, as Alexandra V. Orlova writes in an article titled “From Social Dislocation to Human Trafficking: The Russian Case”, the collapse of the soviet union in 1991 “brought massive social dislocation and uncertainty. ” (15): “The police are often unable to guarantee the safety of these women or their families after the women repatriated” (Orlova 18).
Weir agrees with Orlova when he writes that: “Russia’s lack of reliable law enforcement is one major reason the flesh trade thrives on such a huge scale…” (Patter of Deceit, 3). There is so much corruption in the law enforcement! One would assume that Russia would want to do anything and everything in its power to save its women…to stop this horrifying crime from happening…unfortunately that is not the case and the future of the country is looking rather bleak. So what kind of a future is there? What is actually being done to prevent such hate crimes against women?
As Galina Stolyarova explains that “Traffickers go largely unpunished in Russia…(because the country) has no special legislation on trafficking in its criminal code” (11). She also says that “there are no special laws to protect women over 18 from being sold into prostitution or slavery” (11). “Interpol, the international law-enforcement agency, works only on officially registered cases — which are extremely rare in cases of trafficking — while the International Red Cross has not been involved in searching for women lost in the trafficking trade” (11).
Although there have been steps towards trying to make trafficking a lot harder, the steps are just not working. An editorial in The New York Times had some information about the Russian parliament and how it took a step to severely cut down on human trafficking from Russia. “The Duma drafted a law that would require the government to warn Russians about the deceitful methods used to turn women and children into modern-day sex slaves” (1). However, his bill needs to be approved by not only the Russian government, but also by the police. This bill “would make trafficking in humans illegal. And it would require authorities to provide real help for those forced into servitude” (1). Although there are people, human right groups and even governmental involvement in trying to help stop this horrible and brutal sexual trafficking of women, the end is far from sight, nothing that is being done right now is really enough, there are some more solutions though.
One of many solutions to the sexual trafficking of women might be best stated by Dimitry Latypov, a writer for Pravda, in his article “Young Women Have No Notion of Sexual Risks that Jobs Abroad Pose”, when he writes: It is perfectly obvious that today fighting human trafficking, a really dangerous crime, demands very tough measures. Usually, organized criminal groups deal with human trafficking, that is why there must be special police units fighting the crime. As of today, just few criminal procedures have been initiated in Russia in connection with human trafficking.
People fall victims of human traffickers because the federal law does not protect Russians from the trouble, some experts believe. There are just two clauses of the RF Criminal Code that concern the problem. Today, law enforcement structures stand aside from the problem because it is very hard to prove that this or that crime was in fact human trafficking (2). So Russia, needs more strict guidelines dealing with what human trafficking is, and a strict punishment for the traffickers.
The country needs a “special police unit” (2) that deals with just this situation alone and the country needs to truly get serious about the problem or the situation will never improve and the “reported 50,000 women and girls”(Orlova 15) that are being taken abroad and forced into prostitution each year will continue to increase in numbers. Orlova argues that: “The chances for improvement are directly tied to President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to implement the reforms needed to combat human trafficking” (18). The man does have a lot of power, his people don’t really question him. Putin,…enjoys very high approval ratings… Thus, when economic or political calamities occur, most Russians tend to blame the presidential cabinet rather than the president himself, and cabinet members are easily replaced…with minimum checks and balances on the power of the executive, all the momentum for major reforms must come from Putin himself (18). The only optimistic thing that Orlova says about the Russian government and the steps that they are making towards preventing sexual human trafficking is that the government has made “funds available to anti-trafficking NGOs in belated recognition of the sex-trade problem” (18).
She also believes that the reform of the economy in Russia will help the situation. She says that “Russia needs further reforms designed to stimulate growth in other sectors of the economy, …to reduce overall poverty and decentralize employment and job creation” (19). I agree with her completely, I believe that will help people get jobs and then less women would be desperate enough to look overseas for job offers. There are solutions out there, however, the government is just not stepping up, Putin is just not taking this subject as seriously as he should.
These girls deserve better, if these solutions aren’t taken seriously the girls will continue to get hurt. The police, the government, the whole country either turns a blind eye to the sexual trafficking of its women or they get in on the profits. When will this situation truly get recognized? It has come to a point where Russia really needs to step and fight for its women and children. The country is losing its people, and the crime of stealing women and forcing them into pure torture has become more then just a pure human, moral fight, it has become a fight for the entire country and its future.
These girls will keep on getting lured away or kidnapped into a world that they cannot every fully come back from. They will keep fighting and they will keep dying and no one is going to be able to save them. These poor women and girls have no clue what they are getting themselves into and when they do, it’s too late and the government is not helping. No one should face a world where they get beaten and raped every day. No one should cry every night praying for a fast death. The girls deserve better.