TED Case Studies

Trafficking in Russian Women:

Sexual Exploitation as a Growing Form of
International Trade

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I. Identification

1. The Issue

Human trafficking inarguably has become one of the most dangerous and controversial forms of international trade in existence today. The various activities under the rubric of "human trafficking," which are both illegal and dangerous, include: trafficking in women and children (for sexual exploitation), prostitution, child exploitation, pornography, trade in body parts, illegal adoptions, and alien smuggling (Stoecker). Though these acts take place throughout the world, there has been a recent jump in human trafficking activities throughout Russia and much of the former Soviet Union over the last decade, in particular, which can be attributed both to declining economic conditions and an explosion in transnational organized crime and corruption. Though organized crime itself is not a new problem in this region, recent events throughout post-communist countries have exacerbated its existence, as well as enhanced its reach throughout the world.

Many Russian women, due to lack of economic opportunities in their country, seek to better their lives through work overseas. While some expect to lead a glamorous lifestyle, others only want the chance to earn a decent wage -- the majority of these women, however, find themselves sold into slavery. Their plight, and that of other trafficked women throughout the world, undoubtedly needs increased attention from the international community. Many of these women are coerced, held against their will, threatened with violence, and cut off from society. Since most governments view them as illegal immigrants, the majority of trafficked women choose not to go to officials for help. As well, criminal groups may threaten to seek revenge if they do. Legislation to prevent trafficking, as well as laws that protect victims and prosecute the criminals involved in trafficking, must be introduced in all countries.

"When one sells a woman, they can sell her over and over and over again ...
It is an incredibly lucrative business."

- Cate Johnson, USAID

Global Sex Trade Trafficking in Russian Women Why Do Women Do it? How is it Done? What is the Scope of the Problem? What are the Short-and Long-term Effects of Trafficking in Women?
Why Does it Continue? What is Currently Being Done? What Needs to be Done? Legal Clusters Economic Data Relevant Literature

2. Description


The United Nations (UN) views the world's sex trade as one of the fastest growing trafficking "businesses." It recognizes trafficking as a form of slavery and violence against women, and in a recent report estimated that four million people are trafficked throughout the world each year, resulting in up to seven billion dollars annually in profits to various criminal networks (Caldwell, et. al.). The victims of human trafficking (typically women between the ages of 15 to 35) are transported throughout the world, to countries such as Israel, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Macau, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, the United States, and many other countries, where they are oftentimes forced into prostitution and other exploitative activities.

Currently there is little agreement among governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) about a precise definition of the term 'trafficking,' which makes it much more difficult to curb such activities. For the purposes of this paper, and to develop a clearer sense of what trafficking is, the following definition, developed by The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) , an non-governmental organization based out of Canada and Thailand, will be used:


Regardless of the definition used, the fact remains that throughout the world thousands of young women and girls are sold into the international sex trade each year by criminal groups. Organized crime and corruption throughout the newly independent Russia plays a particularly crucial role in the incidences of human trafficking, as noted by The Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) at American University. TraCCC views Russia's organized crime and corruption as a "growing phenomena (that) presents a formidable challenge to the international law enforcement, political and business communities" (Stoecker). They further indicate that there is "a disproportionately negative effect on transitional and developing countries, ..." where "the most severely impacted are the less privileged, particularly women, children, ... and those not part of the circle of corruption" (The Transnational Crime and Corruption Center). Dr. Sally Stoecker, project director and research professor at TraCCC, indicates that there are at least four factors that facilitate the growth of trafficking:

  1. Globalization of the economy;
  2. Increased demand for personal services in the developed world;
  3. The continuing rise in unemployment among women; and
  4. The rapid and unregulated enticement and movement of human capital via the Internet. (Stoecker)


Despite myriad prohibitions against trafficking, worldwide networks marketing Russian women (and children) for prostitution continue to flourish. Trafficking in women from throughout much of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union has exploded since 1989. According to a recent report submitted by the Global Survival Network (GSN), the success of Russia's criminal networks "can be attributed to several factors, including the global economic trends, the declining socioeconomic status of women, the enormous profitability of the business, government inaction, and, in the most egregious circumstances, government complicity" (Caldwell, et.al.).

This is, as GSN suggests, not only due to an increase in organized crime and corruption in the region, but is, at least in part, also due to a chaotic economic environment that is a result of political and economic transformation from a centrally planned economy to a free market economy. The result is a chaotic economic environment in which many many Russian citizens (both male and female) continue to experience harmful effects from the past decade's economic and political transition. However, it is Russian women who have disproportionately endured negative effects as a consequence of this transition. For instance, more Russian women than men are unemployed. Russian women also face increased discrimination in hiring (WLDI). World Bank figures indicate that women in Russia earn only 70% of men's wages for the same work and make up 70% of the official unemployed (Eaves), though the former figure is most likely higher. These factors have lead to a massive decrease in opportunities for Russian women in the formal workplace. What is more, government-sponsored social supports (such as family health care and daycare for children) are reduced or eliminated entirely, which is an added strain on women, who are typically responsible for the care of children and the household.

The most significant cause of the abovementioned effects on women is the country's implementation of macroeconomic policies since the collapse of Communism in the early 1990s. Supply-side economic reforms, sanctioned by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, have caused plummeting devaluation of Russia's currency, on top of removing consumer price supports, which led to hyperinflation. These have had intensely detrimental effects on the majority of Russian citizens, making it more difficult to survive on a daily basis. The cessation of government subsidies to industry and the implementation of a rapid privatization scheme have led to massive unemployment. Finally, deep cuts in government spending, in conjunction with these other neoliberal reforms, have only succeeded in placing the burden of transition on Russia's citizens.

It is within this unstable environment that many Russian women find themselves looking for alternative solutions ... and it is within this environment that many are either lured or coerced into a dangerous and corrupt world of prostitution, with so-called guarantees of a better life and a well-paid job in a foreign country. 17-year old Lyubov, from a Russian coal mining city, admits that life in Russia was very difficult. She reports that "there were days when I had nothing to eat." Her ordeal began in 1998, when a man in her hometown offered her a plane ticket, a visa, and a job abroad. Sadly, Lyubov had no idea that she was being "sold" into prostitution. She was only trying to improve her life, and that of her family. After six months of working as an enslaved prostitute for no pay, Lyubov now sits in a jail cell in Israel awaiting expulsion as an illegal worker, and she feels fortunate to have been "caught" (Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation: Russia).

A recent study, alarmingly, indicates that prostitition is, in fact, one of the top "careers" that Russian schoolgirls dream of pursuing (Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation: Russia). Thus, there are indeed a number of Russian women, in contrast to Lyubov and others like her who are coerced, who enter the sex trade voluntarily, viewing prostitution as their ticket to a life of adventure and glamour. Yet, falso promises abound with these women, as well. Many who knowingly enter into the sex trade are forced to work for months or years without earnings, and they endure cruel forms of sexual exploitation. Ultimately, these women end up putting themselves into a position where they may lose not only their basic human rights but their lives, as well.


As a result of the continued deterioration of economic conditions, it is estimated that up to 50,000 women leave Russia permanently every year(Caldwell), for various reasons. A great many of these women find themselves to be victims of illegal trafficking, and they are often sold involuntarily into prostitution. As a part of the “trade in human flesh,” they are treated as objects or commodities, coerced, deceived, and deprived of their basic human rights, such as the ability to control their own bodies and labor. The majority of these women are sold like slaves in countries such as Israel, Malaysia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Cyprus, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, to name but a few recipient countries.

While it is true that some Russian women enter into the international sex trade knowingly, many because they erroneously believe they will lead a glamorous life and make a lot of money, the overwhelming majority are tricked into such activities by criminal groups posing as employment, travel agencies, and marriage firms. The victims enter into what they believe (and hope) will be legitimate agreements with these criminals, who promise them jobs as entertainers, waitresses, or barmaids overseas, or who promise to find them husbands. Many of these women are “raped and beaten, have their passports confiscated and are threatened with harm to themselves and their families if they try to break their “contracts” or seek help” (Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation: Eastern Europe). They are then forced to work as prostitutes in order to pay off travel “debts,” which are sometimes as high as $15,000. Some women are sold to other criminals who then add more to this “debt.”

Methods and Techniques of Traffickers
Trafficked Women's Condition of Work

Central Europe Eastern Europe and CIS Developing Countries
Passport taken away
Restriction of movement/movement controlled
Working hours: 9 - 12
Working hours: 13 - 18
No freedom to refuse clients
Forced to work without condom
Physical violence used against victim
Victim threatened with violence
Victim's family threatened
Regular circumstances
Source: "Trafficking and Prostitution: The Growing Exploitation of Migrant Women from Central and Eastern Europe," IOM, May 1995.

It is important to note here that, while there many criminal groups using employment, travel agencies, and marriage firms as fronts for their trafficking activities, there are just as many legitimate firms in operation that are working well within the constraints of the law.

For more information about Russia's mail-order bride industry, CLICK HERE.

Take, for instance, the case of "Lena," a 19-year old woman from the Russian Far East who wanted to travel and earn money. She responded to a newspaper advertisement for a work and study program in China, as did several other Russian women. A month after their arrival in Jukhai, China, having studied cooking in order to begin work in a local restaurant, the women's passports were confiscated. They were told they would have to pay US$15,000 each for the return of their passports. One woman from the group was "sold" to another criminal group and transported to Macau to work as a prostitute. Throughout their ordeal, Lena and the other women were subjected to beatings, imprisonment, and hunger. They had no money, and no way out. The women were eventually forced to work as "entertainers" in local restaurants, hotels and night clubs. Fortunately, Lena and her friends did manage to escape from their Chinese bosses, but they received little help from Russian consulates and Chinese officials when they appealed for assistance to return home to Russia. Lena and the other women were again forced to work as prostitutes for an additional three months before making enough money to leave China (Caldwell, et.al.).


Lest we think this problem occurs only in developing countries, victims of trafficking have also been transported into the United States. While no exact figures are available, several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) report that a rising number of Russian women are working in the U.S. sex industry (Caldwell, et.al.). Some are brought in on fiance, student, or business visa; however, the majority enter the U.S. with tourist visas (ibid). Organized crime groups have infiltrated the U.S. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates that in 1993 at least 15 organized crime groups from the former Soviet Union were operating in the U.S. (ibid). These groups have established intricate criminal networks in various U.S. cities, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York, to which they bring the Russian women to work in nightclubs, massage parlors, and the like.

A recent case involving the "Russian Touch Massage Parlor" in downtown Bethesda, near Washington, DC. After eight young Russian women answered advertisements in Moscow and St. Petersburg newspapers, offering positions in the U.S. as au pairs, sales clerks, and waitresses, they found that they had been tricked into prostitution. Each of the women had been charged US$1,800 by the "travel agencies" for facilitating their trip, and upon arrival their passports were confiscated while they were forced to work off their "debt." The women had been given no salary for their "work" at the parlor, only making money from tips they received for sexual services given to clients (Caldwell, et.al.). In 1996, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the FBI and the local police raided the massage parlor based on suspected tax evasion by the owner. However, what they stumbled upon were the eight Russian women, six of whom were considered illegal workers.

For more related information about the scope of trafficking in women throughout the world, CLICK HERE to listen to a recent National Public Radio (NPR) segment featuring an interview with Anita Botti of The President's Interagency Council on Women.


Russia's growing sex trade has brought with it many detrimental social and environmental effects. For instance, as a direct result of the criminal networks' reliance on prostitution as their main source of revenue, there are now high incidences of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancies among trafficked Russian women. According to the Coalition Against the Trafficking of Women (CATW), 90 percent of women arrested for prostitution or drug-related crimes in the Kaliningrad region of Russia are infected with HIV (Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation: Russia).

Trafficked women are not only subjected to health risks, but they also deal with the daily threat of physical and emotional abuse. Many pimps "use threats, severe contracts, and confiscate salaries to ensure a compliant workforce" (Caldwell). The traffickers use many mechanisms of control that ensure a woman's obedience -- isolating her from the local society, dependency on drugs or alcohol, etc. (Caldwell, et.al.). For the wowen, there is the daily fear of being apprehended by the local police or expelled from the country. Given societal norms in Russia, for many women returning home and having to admit their activities (even though they may have been tricked into them) is a disgrace. There is also a fear of retaliation by the traffickers themselves. Many traffickers threaten to harm the woman's family back in Russia if she does not comply.


Governments and the international community are increasingly concerned with the problem of trafficking in women; however, understanding this phenomenon is incomplete, at best, and measures to combit it continue to be fragmented. In Russia, it is an unfortunate fact that in many cases of trafficking, there is actually collaboration between traffickers and law enforcement officials (both at the local and national levels). As was "Lena's" experience, the incidence of sexual exploitation and slavery of Russian women is often largely ignored by domestic and foreign law-enforcement agencies, as well as governments (Caldwell, et.al.). A recent two-year undercover investigation conducted by Global Survival Network (GSN) revealed that not only do police departments in receiving countries minimize the extent of trafficking, but many governments have responded to trafficking in women "as a problem of illegal migration, an approach that transforms women victimized by particular circumstances into criminals" (ibid). The GSN report also states that in Russia "real and government corruption and involvement, particularly among police and intelligence units, has been a disincentive for intervention by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the media" (ibid).

In addition, Russia continues to harbor an indifference toward women's issues. GSN's research found that this, coupled with a shortage of resources, and a heavy workload, make it difficult for Russia's honest law enforcement officials to fight against the growing sex trade. When attempting to bring forth justice, these officials often find themselves instead fighting against a corrupt judicial system that is overflowing with bribery, as well as intense pressure from Russian organized crime conglomerates. Even with mounting evidence against the traffickers, most trafficked women are too fearful to testify against their captors. It, therefore, remains an unfortunate fact that these criminal networks are rarely brought to justice.


Because the problem of trafficking in women is an issue that combines both slavery and human rights abuses, at the international level there are several organizations working towards promoting human rights standards. The GAATW, for instance, has put forth standards that would protect the rights of trafficked persons by "providing them with an effective legal remedy, legal protection, non-discriminatory treatment, and restitution, compensation and recovery" (GAATW). In addition, Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1948, states that "No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms" (CLICK HERE to view text from Article 4).

While there are many international mechanisms in place (CLICK HERE to view these mechanisms), not all governments and/or regional and local legal authorities are respectful of the need for such standards and for protection of trafficking victims. In Russia, for instance, there is a "governmental roof" that has been formed by the collaboration between the Federal Security Service, Foreign Service Ministry, and the criminal groups (Caldwell). These alliances make it easy for criminal groups to obtain tourist visas for their victims, as well as ensure their own anonymity and protection.

A UN Protocol, entitled Revised Draft Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, is expected to be ready for ratification by governments in September 2000. This protocol will supplement the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. It will include the following sections: scope of trafficking in persons; obligations by countries to criminalize trafficking; provide victim protection and assistance in appropriate cases; status of the victim in the receiving state; return of trafficking victims; victim rehabilitation; law enforcement measures; border controls; security of travel documents; verification of documents; and prevention of trafficking.


The government of Russia as well as those in countries throughout the world, especially where trafficking of women is an issue, must address the growing problem of trafficking in women with more seriousness and unity than is currently the case. Because the current sex trade is an international issue, it needs to be addressed in an international forum. Tackling this issue also needs to be done at the domestic level, as well, in particular within Russia and other ECE countries. Ultimately, however, a combination of activities is essential:

  • Implementing controls in and ensuring enforcement of both international and national laws;
  • Strengthening political cooperation; and
  • Maintaining strict adherence to international standards and laws that are currently in place.

There also is the problem of a lack of solid information (i.e., statistics), which is not only due to differences in definitions of "trafficking," but also because there is a tendency for some countries to count trafficked persons as part of the general statistics on illegal migration, and because the majority of trafficked persons remain hidden and unknown to authorities. What is more concerning is that the domestic agencies that are currently in charge of collecting statistics on human trafficking are primarily the police, the Ministry of Justice and NGOs (Omelaniuk and Baerten). In Russia, this itself is a problem, since there appears to be an incredible amount of complicity from these agencies with the criminal networks. As a way to improve the quantity and scope of information on human trafficking, it is necessary to build strong alliances between non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community groups, and government. In this light, a recent International Organization for Migration (IOM) study concluded that:

IOM believes that increasing the collection and flow of information can be a useful preventative tool, as well. For instance, the joint EU-U.S. initiative in Ukraine is making attempts to educate at-risk groups of women and girls of the dangers associated with trafficking (ibid).

There must also be a focus on the legislative and political aspects of trafficking in women. In order to eradicate this and other forms of human trafficking activities, a change in the official attitudes toward the trafficked persons in both the sending and the recipient countries is absolutely necessary (Caldwell, et.al.). For instance, the majority of governments typically treat the victims of trafficking themselves as the criminals, calling it an "immigration problem." In their eyes, people who cross borders illegally and who work without proper papers are defined as illegal immigrants. This attitude only perpetuates the problem and succeeds in making the victims of trafficking all the more powerless, giving them little option in terms of self-protection.

Finally, law enforcement authorities in all countries, both sender and recipient, have a critical role to play in fighting against trafficking in women, since they most often are the ones to discover the trafficked individuals. It is imperative, therefore, that these officials develop a proactive approach toward combating the issue of trafficking. One essential measure would be to create special police units that are put in place specifically to fight human trafficking. As well, improved training of police officers and the recruitment of more police women would also prove effective.

Several ways to prevent the instance of trafficking in women is to organize informational campaigns, as well as to ensure economic empowerment of women (for instance, via job skills training). Ways in which to protect victims of trafficking include crisis centers, telephone hotline assistance, self-help groups, and trafficking prevention centers. Global Survival Network (GSN), just one NGO out of many throughout the world currently fighting against trafficking, is promoting the implementation of six steps to be taken in order to address the problem of trafficking in women:

  1. Governments, community groups, and the media need to promote awareness of the problem;
  2. Law enforcement, embassy officials, and immigration must be trained about trafficking and forced labor so they can handle these cases when they arise;
  3. Governments must stop treating trafficked persons as illegal migrants;
  4. Governments should provide stays of deportation for witnesses and increase penalties for convicted traffickers;
  5. Confiscated funds should be used to provide counseling, healthcare, housing, legal advise, and compensation for trafficked victims; and
  6. Governments should provide witness protection and relocation (Caldwell)

There is no doubt that many of these initiatives focus primarily on the supply-side of the trafficking issue, i.e. how to prevent the supply of these women, how to protect the women, how to criminalize traffickers, etc. However, it is also just as important to look at how the demand-side of trafficking can be curbed. That is, what can be done to squelch the widespread demand by men for illicit sex? Unfortunately, the basic answer to this question goes beyond the scope of this paper. What has happened over the past decade is a boom in the number of sex tourism operators, most of whom advertise worldwide via the Internet. Such businesses are, in effect, perpetuating the demand problem in trafficking. However, what is perhaps most crucial is the fact that the men who are customers of sex tourism rarely ask themselves if the women they are "with" are there because they actually want to be, or if they are being forced beyond their will. In this respect, educational campaigns that target male customers of the sex industry can go a long way in teaching men about the darker side of what they consider to be a pleasurable business -- specifically, the human rights abuses that are manifested in the experiences of the actual women involved.

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Case No. 455 Russia's Prostitution Trade

Case No. 356 Thailand and AIDS

Case No. 336 Thailand Tourism

Case No. 245 Russia Mercury Poisoning

Case No. 392 Ural Mountains Chemical Pollution

Case No. 265 Komi Area Oil Spill

4. Draft Author:

Anne M. Spevacek - May 9, 2000

5. Discourse and Status

II. Legal Clusters

Trafficking in human beings has long been recognized throughout the world as a form of slavery. It has also been condemned as one of the most fundamental of all human rights abuses. Although victims of trafficking are, in fact, protected under numerous international articles and conventions, the unfortunate fact remains that both national and international enforcement mechanisms are weak. Many countries themselves do not have specific laws on trafficking in human beings, let alone on trafficking in women. Moreover, the countries that do have specific laws do not always convict traffickers for their crimes, mainly due to the difficulties of compiling sufficient evidence and testimony (Omelaniuk and Gaerten).

Russia's new Criminal Code does contain several articles that directly relate to human trafficking: Article 132, "Violent Actions of a Sexual Nature;" 133, "Coercive Actions of a Sexual Nature;" and 240, "Enticing Persons into Prostitution." (Stoecker). However, as is the case throughout many parts of the world, it is the enforcement of Russia's Criminal Code that is lacking. The question then becomes who is responsible for supervising this enforcement?

There is no doubt that governments throughout the world (in both recipient and sender countries) have a moral and legal responsibility, both to pass meaningful legislation that protects victims of trafficking, as well as to fight against corruption and complicity at the national and local levels of government and law enforcement. It is also the responsibility of the individual countries' immigration services to initiate more control and protection over the number of illegal immigrants and migrants. However, as many domestic and international organizations maintain, an international coordination of actions is necessary in promoting the rights and protection of migrant workers and to effectively combat trafficking. This would include definitive actions by national/local governments and immigration officials, as well as by multilateral organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations (UN), and other like institutions that possess the means to make substantial changes.

Currently there is not a lack of international legal mechanisms in place that prohibit slavery and the slave trade, and this includes the trafficking in women.

Legal Mechanisms:

  1. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  2. The Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitations of the Prostitution of Others
  3. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women
  4. The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women
  5. International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions
  6. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  7. UN Charter-based Mechanisms (CLICK HERE to view UN Human Rights Conventions)
  8. Slavery Convention and the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery

However, the circumvention or complete disregard for these legal mechanisms is a problem throughout the whole of the global sex trade, not just in Russia. Adherence is necessary in order to bring about positive changes that, ultimately, could eradicate such an atrocious activity as trafficking in women, or at least offer more solid protection for the victims.

In addition to international legal mechanisms, several countries are currently adopting new or amending existing national laws in order to strengthen sanctions against traffickers. Germany, itself a recipient country of trafficked women, realized the need for this and has added two paragraphs in the German Code of Criminal Law that relate to trafficking in human beings (Omelaniuk and Baerten). However, even with this clause, convictions are still extremely low, mainly due to lack of evidence and witness testimony, and the difficulty in proving trafficking (ibid). In the past several years, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, and the Baltic States also have either introduced new legislation or amended existing national laws (ibid).

The United States has also been active in implementing anti-trafficking strategies. The Clinton Administration, vis-a-vis the President's Interagency Council on Women, has put forth a number of anti-trafficking initiatives, the first of which was to issue a presidential directive in 1998 calling trafficking in women and girls a "fundamental human rights violation" (PICW). The U.S. adopted a three-tiered strategy that includes the 3 P's: Prevention, Protection (of victims), and Prosecution (of traffickers) (ibid). As well, the U.S. has initiated or taken part in several multilateral and bilateral programs to combat trafficking, including a recent meeting co-hosted with the Philippines, entitled the "Asian Regional Initiative to Combat the Trafficking of Women and Children (ARIAT)," in March 2000. Perhaps most importantly, the Administration has also been working with Congress to create domestic legislation to stop trafficking, of which two bills have recently been brought to Capitol Hill for vote. However, the steps taken by the U.S. and other countries are not enough to fight against the global trend of trafficking in human beings, activities which heavily depend upon official corruption to facilitate success. More needs to be done on a transnational basis to fight against this corruption, as well as to ensure enforcement of existing legal mechanisms, and formulating and implementing new and improved domestic and international legislation.

5. Discourse and Status:

Disagreement and Allegation

6. Forum and Scope:

Russia and Unilateral

7. Decision Breadth:


8. Legal Standing:

Fill in Legal issues

III. Geographic Clusters

9. Geographic Locations

a. Geographic Domain: Europe

b. Geographic Site: Eastern Europe

c. Geographic Impact: Russia

10. Sub-National Factors:


11. Type of Habitat:


IV. Trade Clusters

12. Type of Measure:

Export Standard

13. Direct v. Indirect Impacts:


14. Relation of Trade Measure to Environmental Impact

a. Directly Related to Product: Yes, Women

b. Indirectly Related to Product: No

c. Not Related to Product: No

d. Related to Process: Yes, Morals

15. Trade Product Identification:


16. Economic Data

Reliable statistics on trafficked women, including those from Russia, are lacking in most because of inadequate research, data collection and information exchange. What is more, according to the International Organization for Migration, "definitions of trafficking in women also vary between countries and even amongst institutions within the same country, making comparison of data virtually impossible" (Omelaniuk and Baerten).

17. Impact of Trade Restriction:


18. Industry Sector:


19. Exporters and Importers:

Russia and Many

There is a considerable lack of information about trafficking in women, especially from Russia and Eastern/Central Europe (ECE) where the problem is very new. Despite the lack of statistics, however,the problem continues to grow in size and importance throughout the region. In Germany alone, it was estimated that in 1996 80 percent of trafficked women came from ECE and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) (Severin). In addition, during a recent study conducted in the Netherlands, 75 percent of the trafficked women interviewed were from ECE countries (Caldwell, et.al.).

There is increased trade in women between Russia and the former Eastern bloc, on the one hand, and Asia, Western Europe, and the United States, on the other. Russian women appear to be in high demand in many of these countries, perhaps due to what is seen as an "exotic" nature (ibid). Russia and the Newly Independent States (NIS), including Ukraine and the Baltics, have become primary "sender" countries, supplementing and even replacing what were considered significant sources of women from Asia and Latin America (ibid).

As mentioned previously, official records estimate up to 50,000 women leave Russia permanently each year. However, unofficial estimates suggest the number could be much higher. According to Marco Gramegna of the International Organization for Migration, an estimated 500,000 women are trafficked each year into Western Europe, which was the first region to receive large numbers of women trafficked from Russia (Caldwell, et.al.). It seems very likely that most of these women arrive via organized criminal networks.

In terms of which countries are the top importers of trafficked Russian women, recent data collected by GSN's two-year study indicate that Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Macau, and the United States are thought to receive a substantially high number of these women. While it is difficult to dispute, or even agree with, this assumption, based on the lack of hard numbers, it does seem evident that, given recipient-country immigrant statistics, the trafficking of women from Russia is a growing problem. It must be stated, however, that the problem of trafficked women is evident not only in these five countries alone. Russian women are also being trafficked to other Western European and Asian countries, as well as to Israel and other parts of the Middle East - the list of recipient countries seems endless.

GERMANY: It is believed that between 60 and 80 percent of the women trafficked into Germany come from Eastern/Central Europe (ECE), Russia, and the Newly Independent States (NIS). An estimated 150,000 Russian and ECE women currently work in Germany's red light districts alone (Caldwell, et.al.). SWITZERLAND: In 1994, out of the total number of visas awarded to "dancers" coming into Switzerland, 300 (or 17 percent of the total) were awarded to Russia (ibid). It can only be assumed that a fair portion of these visas were issued to Russian women entering the sex trade, though detailed information is not available. What is perhaps more alarming is that these number represent the official statistics, which leads one to wonder, how many more Russian women are entering Switzerland, and other countries, illegally (i.e., without a visa)?
JAPAN: Trafficking routes to Japan are numerous, originating in countries throughout Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe (ibid). To work around laws that make it illegal for migrant women to work as prostitutes, traffickers are using "entertainer" visas to move women into Japan. In 1995, of the total 22,060 Russians who entered Japan, 4,763 entered as entertainers. What is worse still, the proportion of young (15-29 years old) women entering Japan has also increased steadily during the last decade (ibid). MACAU: This country has become yet another focal point in the sex trade, mainly because of its popularity as a weekend getaway for citizens of China and Hong Kong, and as a vacation spot for tourists from all over the world. No specific figures exist in terms of how many Russian women are trafficked here. However, given Macau's close proximity to Hong Kong, in which there are approximately 50 local organized crime groups that control places of public entertainment, illegal gambling, pornography and prostitution rings, it is easy to see why Macau would be a popular place to traffick Russian women.
UNITED STATES: Many Russian women are drawn into the U.S. by marriage agencies or jobs as domestic servants, models and entertainers (ibid). No precise figures are available on the number of foreign women who enter the U.S. via Russian trafficking networks; however, media reports which focus on the exploitation of migrant women have become increasingly widespread. The U.S. Department of State reported in 1996 that more than 124,000 visas were granted to Russian citizens. ISRAEL: Every year it is estimated that hundreds of women are trafficked from countries of the CIS for the purpose of working in Israel's sex industry.

V. Environment Clusters

20. Environmental Problem Type:


21. Name, Type, and Diversity of Species:

Lifetime of Russian Women

22. Resource Impact and Effect:

High and Product

23. Urgency and Lifetime:

High and 70 years

24. Substitutes:


VI. Other Factors

25. Culture:

Russia, like so many other countries in the world, is a patriarchal society in that its ideological and cultural norms and behaviors have a tendency to discriminate against its women. Though communism touted equality for women during Soviet times, this was never realized, and the current reality is that many Russian women have been marginalized, both in the workplace and at home. Thus, the recent explosion in the sexual exploitation of Russian women, either through coercive measures or by choice to enter the sex industry, is not entirely surprising. Whether it be due to the country's unstable economic and legal environments, or whether it is a woman's personal choice that compels her to enter into such an industry, the end result is an illegal and dangerous activity that adds significantly to the deterioration of this country's culture.

26. Trans-Boundary Issues:


27. Rights:

Many women who are trafficked, including those from Russia, are subjected to human rights abuses in their recipient countries. Because these women are illegal aliens under many countries' domestic laws, they are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses. As previously mentioned, many women are held in debt bondage, imprisoned in locked apartments, and have their passports confiscated to prevent them from leaving. They are often threatened with or subjected to violence, including rape and other forms of sexual abuse.

According to Amnesty International, a human rights watchdog group, international human rights laws state that individual countries are responsible for protecting people against human rights abuses by private persons (Amnesty International). However, many countries that are recipients of trafficked women fail to take the appropriate measures to prevent, investigate, prosecute and punish human rights abuses committed against these women. Often the women are treated as the criminals, rather than victims, of trafficking.

All recipient countries must take steps to combat human rights abuses against trafficked women from Russia and other countries. In a report outlining recommendations to the Israeli government for combatting human rights abuses against trafficked women from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Amnesty International recommends that a review be conducted "of how governmental agencies have responded to these human rights abuses and develop an interagency strategy to ensure that there is coordinated and effective governmental effeort towards preventing, investigating, prosecuting and punishing such human rights abuses."(ibid) Amnesty also calls for increased international cooperation between Israel and the governments of the CIS and transit states to combat human rights abuses committed against trafficked women. Such actions should be taken by all countries, whether they be recipient, transit, or sending countries in terms of trafficking, in order to prevent trafficking in women, protect its victims, and prosecute its perpetrators.

28. Bibliography and References:

Caldwell, Gillian, S. Galster, and N. Steinzor, "Crime & Servitude: An Expose of the Traffic in Women for Prostitution from the Newly Independent States," A Report by the Global Survival Network, in collaboration with the International League for Human Rights, 1997.

Caldwell, Gillian, "Bought and Sold," video produced for Global Survival Network, 1997.

Eaves, Elisabeth, "Israel not the promised land for Russian sex slaves," Reuters News Service , August 1998.

Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation: Russia, Available via Internet at http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/ hughes/catw/russia.htm .

Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation: Eastern Europe, Available via Internet at http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/ hughes/catw/eeurope.htm .

Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation: Central and Eastern European Countries, Available via Internet at http://www.uri.edu/ artsci/wms/hughes/catw/ceurope.htm .

Omelaniuk, Irena, and Ginette Baerten, "Trafficking in Women from Central and Eastern Europe -- Focus on Germany," Migration in Central and Eastern Europe, 1999 Review, International Organization for Migration, March 1999.

Pope, Victoria, "Trafficking in Women: Procuring Russians for Sex Abroad -- Even in America," U.S. News and World Report, April 7, 1997, pp. 38-44.

Severin, K., Paper presented at the IOM Regional Seminar on Migrant Trafficking through the Baltic States and Neighboring Countries. Vilnius (Lithuania), September 17-18, 1998.

Stoecker, Dr. Sally, of American University's Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC), "The Rise in Human Trafficking and the Role of Organized Crime," an expanded version of paper presented at the Third International Parliamentary Roundtable on "Contemporary Legal Policy in Countering Transnational Organized Crime and Corruption," held in Irkutsk, Russia, July 8-10, 1000.

Stoecker, Dr. Sally, of American University's TraCCC, extracted from an interview with Dr. Stoecker on February 10, 2000.

The Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, American University, Program Brochure.

Women, Law & Development International Bulletin, "The Consequences of Privatization on Women: WLDI Publishes Country and Synthesis Reports," Fall 1999, pp. 3, 7-8.

29. Relevant Literature

Revised Draft Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime

The Price Tag of Russia's Organized Crime

Organized Crime and Corruption in Russia

Organized Crime Watch - Russia. Focus: Trafficking in Human Beings

Report from Seminar, co-sponsored by American University's Transcrime Center, entitled "The Exploitation and Export of Women from Russia: Scale and Scope," March 11, 1999

United Nation's Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families

United Nations High Commission on Human Rights Fact Sheet No. 14, Contemporary Forms of Slavery

United Nations High Commission on Human Rights Fact Sheet No. 2 (Rev. 1), The International Bill of Human Rights

Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW), Foundation Against Trafficking in Women, and International Human Rights Law Group, Human Rights Standards for the Treatment of Trafficked Persons, January 1999.