A Few Observations about Trafficking in Women by a Criminologist
Mikhail Adamovic LEBED
Representative of the Criminal Police of
Ukraine's Ministry of The Interior
Today I would like to talk to you about the influence of illegal migration of women, prostitution, and the exploitation of women in these areas on the overall crime situation as it has developed in The Ukraine and all over Europe. The difficult issues connected with various types of migration to the economically more developed countries of western and northern Europe must be counted among the more pressing questions of social and legal politics in a number of post-communist countries in central and Eastern Europe. The main reason behind this migration is the search for employment. Because the employment situation generally, and in particular unemployment among women, is getting worse, we have a situation where, for example, in The Ukraine alone, 60% of the unemployed are women, according to statistics. As the economic and social crisis in this country deepens, there is a sharp drop in the standard of living of the majority of Ukrainian citizens. The feminisation of poverty quite understandably impels women to look for any kind of work or for other ways to improve their situation. In most cases, however, this is done without any thought for the possible consequences. For people engaged in various types of illegal business within criminal structures both in The Ukraine and abroad this cheap labour force has become the basis for a nice profit. Thus migration processes are becoming more and more criminalised; they are under the influence of criminal gangs and are increasingly taking on an organised character. Due to these and other negative tendencies in the current stage of the development of the central and Eastern Europe countries, humans begin to be considered goods, and thus we have the problem of trafficking in live beings. There are favourable conditions for making a large profit through the economic and sexual exploitation of humans. Export of women is one type of migration that is particularly troubling and particularly widespread. Typically, it has elements in common with the exploitation of women found in various historical contexts. Many women, lured by promises of attractive work, travel abroad, are caught in the bonds of illegal migration and thus end up dependant on forced work and prostitution. The existing information on the actual number of women connected to negative phenomena such as international trafficking in persons, forced prostitution, and sexual and other types of exploitation is not complete. It is based on observation of the situation in only a few countries and includes foreign prostitutes who are officially registered or who have come into conflict with legal institutions. According to data from the Ukrainian National Central Office of INTERPOL the number of women exported each year in Europe equals roughly 50 to 100 thousand. The vast
majority of women come from central and eastern Europe. This is also confirmed by documents from the international congress and the Conclusions of the International Organisation of Migration. The article "Contraband and Prostitution, the Rising Exploitation of Women Migrants from the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe," which was published in 1995, states that in 1994 alone almost 70% of women exported to The Netherlands came from central and eastern Europe, including The Ukraine. Therefore a number of international documents emphasise that trafficking in women has become an issue of global proportions and of course a component of international criminal business. These days it is no longer possible to deal with this problem on a national level; nor can non-profit organisations alone be expected to cope with it. Prostitution and trafficking in women have become more organised and are components of the criminal community. Cases are known in which women become part of organised crime not only for sexual and other types of exploitation, but also to fulfil other functions - to compromise and blackmail certain otherwise unapproachable officials in order to draw them into corrupted structures. In other words, illegal gangs make use of criminals, thieves and blackmailers to force or threaten money and material advantages out of foreigners.
All these phenomena and issues can not only be held responsible for trafficking in women as a general problem, but also carry risks for individual women. According to information gathered by our legal institutions, prostitution and trafficking in women are generally the domain of criminal organisations which deal with trafficking in weapons and drugs. Most of these are international organisations, which cooperate with corrupt official structures which provide them with the opportunity to transport individual women and whole groups from one state to another or through several states according to demand and need. In light of the predictions of criminologists and of the rise in organised crime groups of all kinds, we can expect to discover new types of crime; the seriousness and character of these will influence the state of crime in Europe as well as trafficking in persons within the illegal business world. This situation constitutes a very real threat for public safety in Europe and demands the coordinated efforts of all interested states and their legal institutions to safeguard their interests through international solidarity. And for now that is all that needs to be said about the influence of this problem on European security. Now I would like to briefly discuss this issue in terms of contemporary Ukrainian legislation. No specific laws exist dealing explicitly with the fight against trafficking in women. Trafficking in women is not firmly entrenched in current criminal legislation; nor is the responsibility for this crime defined. However, this insufficiency is somewhat compensated for by several articles of Ukrainian criminal law which deal with sexual crime against women and which define responsibility. This law covers rape, sexual coercion and running a bordello as well as the crime we are discussion today: procuration. The range of these crimes does not, however, include all the types of crime involved in trafficking in women. I would like to bring attention to the fact that at this time international legal practice does not, unfortunately, provide us with a universally
valid explanation of the term "trafficking in women." Thus it is not possible to use precise terminology which would be consistent in various countries in the creation of national legislative documents dealing with this issue. While analysing this problem we made use of the text of the Hague Ministerial Declaration on European Guidelines for Effective Measures to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Women for the Purposes of Sexual Exploitation from April 26 of this year. In essence we agree with its explanation of trafficking in women and believe that it can be used as a foundation, with, however, some additions, because this explanation deals only with trafficking in women for the purposes of sexual exploitation. In our opinion women are, however, also sold for purposes other than sexual. It would be better to include this in the explanation. This explanation could be used as a unified legal basis for the creation of national legislation in various countries; this would undoubtedly lead to an improvement of the legal situation in the fight against trafficking in women an their illegal export.
As for prostitution, the current criminal legislation of The Ukraine does not define it as a crime and thus it is not punished. According to the current legislation of The Ukraine it is defined as a civil offence and punished with a fine. We can state that there is no institute or organisation in The Ukraine at this time, which deals specifically with trafficking in women and prostitution. The problem is only increasing, because the actions of those engaged in export and trafficking of women are not being punished by the law. We do, however, have some ideas about how to activate the work of legal institutions, and I, as their representative, consider intensifying the fight against trafficking in women as a priority. The first thing we must work on is information. It has become absolutely necessary to create information databases and ensure that legal institutions all over the European continent use them. We must make sure that the information that we do have is exchanged. There are various ways of ensuring this exchange of information: the Ukrainian National Central Office of INTERPOL in Europe, Europol, representatives of legal institutions at embassies (we already have representatives in some countries, for instance, Poland and Hungary). Currently the decision is being made about whether or not to have such a representative in The Czech Republic. It will also be useful to exchange experiences in order to analyse the different methods used in the fight against this crime. We cannot afford to neglect this, because the legislation among individual countries differs and exchange of experience is an indispensable prerequisite for moving our work on solving this problem forward. In our opinion, another indispensable task is to plan and carry out collective measures aimed at discovering and closing the paths along which women are exported. Further, we should study the ways in which trafficking in women and exploitation of women are connected with other forms of organised crime, looking at both the national and international levels, and on the basis of what we find we should develop and carry out the appropriate measures to legally put a stop to these phenomena. And finally, we should actively support non-governmental organisations which deal with illegal migration and traffrcking in women. In closing
I would like to emphasise that the fight against trafficking in women and their sexual exploitation in pursuit of profit demands not only political activities and initiatives on local and international levels, but also the creation of appropriate practical and legal measures for this fight throughout the whole continent.