Sex trafficking in Ukraine or Natasha trade does not seem to end any time soon. Last week, one news article reported that the police dismantled a Russian human trafficking ring operated by a Ukrainian woman. A few more people, along with the Ukrainian woman, were arrested on the charges of trafficking women from Russia to Spain. Sadly, such a Natasha trade has always been the bigger part of the global sex trafficking in the world. As a result, many people around the world associate the faces of Eastern European women with the picture of sex trafficking victims. Advocates have fervently fought against sex trafficking in Ukraine for years. But, the recent reports rather confirm that the sex trafficking is in growing trend in Ukraine.
Growing sex tourism market in the capital city
Kiev, the capital city in Ukraine, is becoming notorious as a sex tourism mecca in Europe. According to one report, many young women from rural area in Ukraine migrate to Kiev to find a better life. But, because of the economic hardship and the difficulty of getting a job, many of them support themselves by prostituting themselves. In fact, such population makes up 90 percent of the prostitutes in Kiev. What’s more, the demand for Ukrainian prostitutes among the European population further supports growing sex industry in Kiev. Though many people have access to sex tourism in Thailand, they can find a better and easier ways to sex tourism in Ukraine. Unlike tourism to Thailand, Europeans do not need passport to get to Ukraine.
Child prostitution and human trafficking
However, the real issue lies on growing child prostitution and human trafficking followed by Kiev’s notoriety as a sex tourism mecca. In fact, the rise of sex tourism led the growing industry of child prostitution and child pornography. According to the head of the international nonprofit School of Equal Opportunities in Ukraine, 11 percent of the prostituted people are in the age between 11 and 15. And, 19 percent of the prostitutes are between 16 and 17. But what’s worse, she added that children on the street are attracted to prostitution because it gives them the means of survival. She further stated that she even knew of one 14 year old girl who was told that 14 years old is too old to be working in pornography.
In this sex tourism mecca, human trafficking is another problem that Kiev is facing along with its notoriety for prostitution. One Australian IT consultant testified that he found his connection to the underworld when he set up a business website for online dating company in Ukraine. After realizing many of the women’s profiles on the dating site elaborate no legitimate contact information, he suspected human trafficking behind the dating sites. Therefore, he hid their profiles in order to protect these women from being exploited by the foreign men. And a few days later, he was stopped by Ukrainian organized criminals in the middle of the street while driving at night. The criminals shot him on his chest twice and walked away from him.
With organized criminals controlling the politics, HIV epidemic soars to the highest in Europe
Regardless of many harms done to prostituted Ukrainian women and children in Kiev, johns go unpunished aside from paying a nominal fine. One advocate mentions that the law enforcement is unlikely to enforce harsh penalties against prostitutes and johns because prostitution is controlled by organized criminals who have tight connection to political elites. But, whether what the advocate says is true or not, Ukraine, and perhaps the rest of the Europe, may already be going down the hill. According to one report by the U.S. National Institute of Health, with 60,000 prostitutes in the city, HIV epidemic in Ukraine is the highest among European countries. The report also says that within 2 years, more than 1 million in the country will contract HIV with the current rate.
Not just problem of Ukraine but all Europeans
Suppose Johns from all over Europe, such as Germany, England, France, Italy, etc. visit brothels in Ukraine and contract HIV from one of the prostitutes. The high HIV epidemic in Ukraine becomes no longer the problem for Ukraine alone. It becomes the problem for everyone in Europe. Forget what Ukrainian government is doing to fight against sex tourism, child prostitution, and sex trafficking in the country. What is the rest of the Europe doing to educate Johns on sexual exploitation of women?