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Trafficking in Russia

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What is trafficking? Trafficking is the transportation of people away from their communities, by the threat or use of violence, deception or persuasion so they can be exploited as forced or enslaved workers for sex or labour.

This takes place in many parts of the world, and whilst statistics are hard to verify, it is estimated that at least 700,000 women and children are trafficked globally across borders each year - usually into domestic work or prostitution.

It is the fastest growing form of modern slavery and it continues to happen every day.

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Attractive job opportunities Recent news stories have highlighted the number of Russian women being trafficked and forced into prostitution in countries around the world, including Europe, the Far East, Israel and the USA.

Since the break up of the Soviet Union, with its accompanying economic collapse, women have been lured by the promise of 'good jobs' abroad, which offer salaries far higher than those on offer in Russia.

Criminal gangs set up employment agencies, which give a front of respectability, and even offer to cover the costs of visas and transport.

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False promises However, the reality is often very different from the bright promises. On arrival in the host country, the women's papers are taken away from them and instead of working as nurses, waitresses, dancers, or au pairs, they are forced to work in brothels as prostitutes.

They are subject to both mental and physical violence, and are often too frightened to contact the police in case they are deported.

Those who do return to Russia receive no support or counselling, and in some cases are disowned by their families or face threats from the people who trafficked them.

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No government action Within Russia, there is currently no law against trafficking, so even when people can be persuaded to speak about their experiences, the traffickers go unpunished.

In 1999, an attempt was made by a group of deputies in Russia's parliament to introduce a draft law on human trafficking, but it failed on both technical and practical groups. Since then no further attempt has been made.

The situation is not seen as a priority, due to a combination of lack of understanding of the issues involved and corruption, as for the traffickers, it is an extremely profitable trade.