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Trafficking of Orphans in Eastern Europe

Orphans are easy prey for sex and slave traffickers.  According to Amnesty International, young women and girls, often vulnerable because of economic deprivation or for having already been physically abused, are easy targets. They dream of a better life, which the traffickers promise when they offer them 'work' in the West. Instead of getting a proper job, the women and girls find themselves trapped, enslaved, and forced into the sex industry.

Trafficked women and girls are exposed to a series of human rights abuses, including abduction, deprivation of liberty and denial of freedom of movement, torture and ill treatment, including psychological threats, beatings and rape. To escape their devastating life, suicide is unfortunately the only option some of these children feel is available to them.

A few of the facts

According to the U.S. State Dept 'Trafficking in Persons' Report (June 2004):

  • Ukraine is both a source and transit country for women and girls trafficked to Europe and the Middle East for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and for men trafficked to Europe and North America for forced labor.
  • Ukraine has seen an increase in the trafficking of children, especially orphans, during the last year.

According to ECPAT International(*):

  • Trafficking of Ukrainian children is a relatively easy operation because of inappropriate agreements reached between Ukraine and border countries Russia, Moldova and Belarus.

(*) ECPAT is a network of organizations and individuals working together to eliminate the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The ECPAT acronym stands for " End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes".

The International Organization for Migration and the NGO 'La Strada' reports that:

  • 40 per cent of children trafficked to CIS, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia-Montenegro, Kosovo and Albania come from abusive, single-parent families or have been in boarding institutions.
  • More than a half are orphans, or have lost the contact with their parents.
  • Approximately 400,000 Ukrainian women went abroad during the past few years in search of work. Of this number more than 100,000 were caught in the nets of sex industry dealers. These are only approximate figures, because obtaining objective and official information is almost impossible: trafficking in people is plied illicitly among a rather close circle of slave traders and anyone who divulges any information or cooperates with law enforcement bodies runs the risk of being murdered.  This is why few are willing to testify or serve as witnesses.
  • Minors are often recruited from rural areas where about 60 per cent face a higher risk of sinking into poverty because of the low productivity and incomes in the agricultural sector affecting the overwhelming majority of rural workers.

 The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human rights reports that:    

  • The basic and primary cause of the slave trade is the uneven socioeconomic development in individual countries and regions of the world. The high level of unemployment (over 80% for women) and arduous socioeconomic problems breed destitution of a huge mass of people, converting them into a potential risk group for slave traders.
  • Ukraine is at the crossroads of the world’s highways of trafficking in “live commodities.” International criminal groups quickly seized the opportunity to use Ukraine both as a transit and donor country.

The Unicef report on Ukraine states that:

  • The number of children living on the streets has risen steadily over the past decade, creating urgent problems in human trafficking for forced prostitution, forced labor and sexual exploitation.


According to UN data:

  • More than 4 million people are trafficked every year across borders worldwide to be used for slave labor.

More and more countries are becoming involved in the slave trade that is reaching unprecedented levels.

Trafficking involves recruiting or transporting another person in order to place them in a situation of abuse or exploitation such as forced prostitution, slavery-like practices, battering and extreme cruelty, sweatshop labor, or exploitative domestic servitude.


Haven Bridge is a 501(c)3 tax exempt public charity focused on preparing orphaned children for independent living through programs offering professional counseling, financial assistance, continued education, self-sufficiency and vocational training.

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