La Strada Ukraine
Coordinator of Prevention,
La Strada Ukraine
The women in our country now face major unemployment. Roughly 80 percent of our total number of unemployed citizens are women. In central Ukraine, there are two to three applicants for every job; in western Ukraine the ratio is twenty to one. Naturally, this situation forces women to look more broadly for employment; women happily accept job offers abroad, where they are promised high wages and better living conditions, like those seen in foreign films. Every woman believes that as soon as she does abroad she will become rich instantaneously; she will have a swimming pool and expensive cars.
The present state of affairs allows criminals to exploit individuals. These criminals, through newspaper ads or "chance meetings", invite women to work abroad as waitresses, sales clerks, caretakers, aupairs, or dancers. They frequently lure them with promises of marriage. Once abroad, the women are forced to enter the sex trade. Sadly, Ukrainian women work in forced prostitution in many countries: Turkey, Germany, Holland, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Croatia, Italy, Israel.
La Strada Ukraine was established in May 1997. Together with LA STRADA in the Czech Republic we are attempting to address and solve various problems related to this issue.We receive phonecalls for help from all the above-mentioned countries, as well as from Canada. Regrettably, not every case of abuse can be resolved, nor can we guarantee the safety of women in danger who are returning from abroad. Our main goal is to prevent young women from being exported. We organize meetings with youth (at schools, universities, colleges), publish articles in newspapers, and attend various conferences on women's issues. Even with international conventions and other legislation to prohibit the trade of women, this is a burning issue in the Ukraine. No law exists in this country to prosecute pimps and procuresses.
Apart from implementing new laws it is crucial that governmental and non-governmental organizations unite to fight this problem. At present, we are working with the Ministries of the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Family and Youth, as well as Youth Social Services and various women's groups across the Ukraine. International cooperation is also necessary, as this is the only sure means by which the sale of women can effectively be reduced.