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EASTERN EUROPE – MAIN ISSUE

October 10, 2000 · 

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The trafficking of children for sexual purposes is reaching alarming dimensions in Eastern Europe. The most worrying fact is that the trafficking is carried out by well-organised and powerful international criminal networks. Furthermore, recent reports indicate that Eastern European women are being marketed and sold over the internet by criminal gangs which then smuggle them to the West.

Most children from Eastern Europe are trafficked to Western Europe. Other major trafficking destinations are Turkey, Cyprus, Japan, Canada, Australia, Israel, the Middle East and South Africa. In terms of the Eastern part of Eastern Europe, children from Belorussia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine are trafficked into the western sex industry. Russia and the Ukraine are the main sending countries and Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are the major transit points for trafficking from this region of Eastern Europe. Since 1989, the trafficking of children from the Russian Federation has exploded, with their percentage in the international sex market overtaking previous sources of supply in Asia and Latin America.

Hungary and Poland are receiver, sender and transit countries for the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Romania is a sender and receiver country but Bulgaria is only a sender country. Hungary and Poland receive children from Romania, Ukraine and Russia. The main destinations for children trafficked from and through Poland are Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium. Many of the victims are boys. Furthermore, in Poland students voluntarily prostitute themselves in Germany over the weekends in order to earn money. In Romania, homeless children have been trafficked for sexual purposes to Germany and Holland. Trafficking routes operate between Romania, Western Europe, Turkey and Cyprus. In Bulgaria, about 10,000 women and children have been trafficked abroad. The most vulnerable are young girls living in rural areas close to the borders who drop out of school. They are lured into the sex trade through two main channels, one through the Czech Republic and Poland to Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands and the other to Greece, Macedonia, Albania and Turkey.

The trafficking of children for sexual purposes also affects the Czech and Slovak republics. The Czech Republic is both a sender, receiver and transit country, whilst Slovakia is a sender and transit country. Cross border trafficking between the Czech Republic and Germany is common, especially to Saxony and Bavaria. The trafficking of sexually innocent boys from the Czech Republic to Germany and the Netherlands is also common. The boys are reportedly smuggled across the border under seats of trucks. Foreign boys are also trafficked into the Czech Republic, mainly to Prague.

Over the last year, the trafficking of children to the Balkans has flourished. Much of the demand emanates from KFOR troops stationed in the Former Yugoslav Province of Kosovo. Details about the reported trafficking to the province are sketchy. There have been reports of hundreds of young Bulgarian girls working in Kosovo under very harsh conditions. Although there are no exact reports, it is thought that girls from other countries in the region are also trafficked into Kosovo.

Finally, with reference to the Baltics, according to the IOM the trafficking in human beings from and through the Baltic countries is increasing. In Estonia, the cross-border trafficking of young women is a problem. In Latvia, there are reported links between trafficking and corrupt law enforcement institutions. Whereas in Lithuania, children are trafficked for sexual purposes to EU member states.

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