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Ira

There are an estimated 794,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Russia (GSI 2018). Women and children are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking in prostitution and pornography. Women are lured by the promise of lucrative employment and a new location, travelling to the country under the pretence of legitimate employment and a better life. However, when they arrive, they are forced into prostitution in brothels, hotels and saunas. There is also evidence of traffickers advertising sexual services of children online. However, despite the evidence of sex trafficking in Russia, it remains an under-recognised area of enslavement in the country.  Ira is from a small town in the Vitebsk region of Belarus. Never having a close relationship with her mother, she ran away numerous times. Ira married young and gave birth to a daughter, however the family had little money and no stable accommodation. Ira returned to her mother but found their relationship had not improved. As Ira had little education, it was difficult for her to find a job in her small town. Her neighbour introduced her to a friend from St. Petersburg who earned money by providing escort services. Ira travelled to Russia to work, however upon arrival the work was not what Ira was promised. She found herself forced to provide sexual services to men who could often be violent. Ira escaped one day, jumping from a third story window, sustaining injuries that led to her being unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair. Ira has now found stable employment and has received psychological and reintegration assistance within the counter-trafficking programme implemented by the IOM office in Belarus.

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Oksana B

Forced labour accounts for 98 percent of cases of modern slavery in Russia. Made up of both Russian and foreign workers, particularly from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan, these people are enslaved in the agricultural and construction sectors, in factories, private homes, forestry, automotive and fishing industries. Russia also stands as the second largest migrant receiving country in the world, and remains one of the top 5 destinations for Ukrainians seeking work. These migrant workers often rely on underground networks and intermediaries, not knowing exactly what work they are committing to. Increased unemployment, poverty and demands for cheap labour among Russian citizens, along with the flow of cross-border migration has created new pockets of vulnerability and opportunities for labour exploitation in the country.    Oksana, 46, was trafficked from Ukraine into forced labour in Russia 

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Oleg

Forced labour accounts for 98 percent of cases of modern slavery in Russia. Made up of both Russian and foreign workers, particularly from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan, these people are enslaved in the agricultural and construction sectors, in factories, private homes, forestry, automotive and fishing industries. Russia also stands as the second largest migrant receiving country in the world, these migrant workers often rely on underground networks and intermediaries, not knowing exactly what work they are committing to. Increased unemployment, poverty and demands for cheap labour among Russian citizens, along with the flow of cross-border migration has created new pockets of vulnerability and opportunities for labour exploitation in the country. Wanting to live independently Oleg took a job he found in a newspaper. Oleg was taken from Moscow along with other men to an unknown location. Forced to live and work in unsanitary and dangerous conditions, the men were threatened with violence at any suggestion of resistance. With the help of one of the bus drivers, Oleg was eventually able to escape and make his way back to home.

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Oksana

Forced labour accounts for 98 percent of cases of modern slavery in Russia. Made up of both Russian and foreign workers, particularly from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan, these people are enslaved in the agricultural and construction sectors, in factories, private homes, forestry, automotive and fishing industries. Russia also stands as the second largest migrant receiving country in the world, and remains one of the top 5 destinations for Ukrainians seeking work. These migrant workers often rely on underground networks and intermediaries, not knowing exactly what work they are committing to. Increased unemployment, poverty and demands for cheap labour among Russian citizens, along with the flow of cross-border migration has created new pockets of vulnerability and opportunities for labour exploitation in the country. Under pressure to make loan repayments, Oksana travelled from Ukraine with a friend to work at a wholesale market. After poor safety conditions led the women to request to be moved, they were taken to an abandoned stock base and ushered in to a small room filled with wooden pallets and dirty mattresses. Subjected to long-working hours and nightly sexual abuses, Oksana along with others eventually escaped, hitchhiking back to Ukraine.  

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Marina

In Russia it is estimated that thousands of women and children are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking in prostitution and pornography. Women are lured by the promise of lucrative employment and a new location, travelling to the country under the pretence of legitimate employment and a better life. However when they arrive, they are forced into prostitution in brothels, hotels and saunas. There is also evidence of traffickers advertising sexual services of children online. However, despite the evidence of sex trafficking in Russia, it remains an under-recognised area of enslavement in the country. Recently split from her husband and in need of money Marina replied to a newspaper advertisement for a seamstress in Moscow. It was upon meeting her employer that Marina was transported to a house underground along with six other women, and informed that she was now enslaved as a sex worker. Forced to live in unhygienic conditions and required to submit to any clientele request or face physical violence, Marina was only able to escape when she was declared ‘unfit’ to work.  

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Ah Wang

Ah Wang left China when he was 28, seven years ago. His wife stayed behind while he saw what life was like in the UK. He was misled by the snakeheads arranging his trip, and faced a difficult journey. Ah Wang travelled across countries by car but ‘needed to climb mountains when entering the borders because we had no passports.’ Local guides, part of the snakehead chain, would guide them across borders. They ended up staying in some places for up to a month while the next stages of the journey were planned. The journey ended up taking about a year. When Ah Wang eventually arrived in the UK by boat he was arrested by the police but was released soon after. He thought he had applied for asylum at that time, but several years later discovered that there was no record of his claim.

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Milena

Milena was born in Moldova and trafficked into sex slavery in Russia, where men and women are also trafficked in from Central Asia and North Korea for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Moldova is a country origin for the trafficking of women and children into European sex slavery. Its economic conditions fuel this trafficking. In 2000, the country’s GDP was 40 percent of its level in 1990. Unemployment remains high, especially among women. People are forced to look outside of the country for work and pimps take advantage: some victims are kidnapped but more often they answer job advertisements promising work and then are forced into sex slavery. Most Moldovan trafficking victims are taken to the Balkan countries, though other destinations include Asia, Turkey, Western Europe and the Middle East.

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Alana

Alana was born in Moldova and trafficked into sex slavery in Russia, where men and women are also trafficked in from Central Asia and North Korea for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Moldova is a country origin for the trafficking of women and children into European sex slavery. Its economic conditions fuel this trafficking. In 2000, the country’s GDP was 40 percent of its level in 1990. Unemployment remains high, especially among women. People are forced to look outside of the country for work and pimps take advantage: some victims are kidnapped but more often they answer job advertisements promising work and then are forced into sex slavery. Most Moldovan trafficking victims are taken to the Balkan countries, though other destinations include Asia, Turkey, Western Europe and the Middle East.