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Preventing Sex Trafficking and Re-Trafficking of Women in Ukraine and Thailand

Name of Student: Angie Ng Student Number: 12468162 Title of Course: MA International Community Development Date of Submission: 24 August 2010

This Dissertation is submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the award of MA International Community Development.


2.3 Thailand

The United States Department of State (U.S. Dept. of State) produces a Trafficking in Persons Report on a yearly basis and puts countries around the world in four categories depending on a government’s compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA's) minimum requirements; in 2010, Thailand fell from Tier 2 (U.S. Dept. of State, 2009) to Tier 2 Watch List, just one tier above the lowest, for not fully complying with the TVPA's minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking (U.S. Dept. of State, 2010). Despite efforts in the past year, the government did not make adequate progress making limited efforts to identify trafficking victims and not investigating corruption connected to trafficking-related cases (ibid). Thailand is a country of origin, transit, and destination for trafficked persons (ibid) - victims can originate from within the country, arrive from another country in order to be transported to third country and/or suffer as trafficking victims within the country. In the 2006 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Trafficking in Persons Global Report, Thailand was named the tenth on the list of top ten countries of origin of trafficked persons (UNODC as quoted in UNDP, 2009). Thai and hill tribe women/girls are trafficked to Europe, Japan, North America, Malaysia, South Africa, Singapore and Australia in addition to Bangkok (U.S. Dept. of State, 2010) through elaborate tactics, sometimes transporting them through multiple transit countries (Yamada, 2007). As the country has failed to provide citizenship and birth registration to ethnic minorities living in the north (UNIAP, 2008), women from these groups are


especially vulnerable. Lao, Cambodian, Chinese and Burmese are trafficked to and through Thailand (Gallagher, 2006: 143) as are women from Russian and Uzbekistan (, 2009, and Yamada, 2007). Here, trafficking into the sex industry is becoming more complex and is now linked to both street begging and pornography, and victims are becoming younger and younger (Yamada, 2007).

Since 1984, when several trafficking victims were burnt to death when locked in a brothel, the issue of sex trafficking has been on the public agenda (Pukdeetanakul, 2007). As of 1997, Thailand has had in place the Measures on Prevention and Suppression of Trafficking in Women and Children Act, and this Act was amended to include all forms of trafficking in 2008 (UNODC, 2009), prior to ratification of the UN Protocol (Pukdeetanakul, 2007). The Department of Special Investigations within the Ministry of Justice and the Center against International Human Trafficking (CAHT) within the Office of the Attorney-General are responsible for the human trafficking issues in the country, and under the Royal Thai Police, a 'Children, Juveniles and Women Division' was established in 2005 (UNODC, 2009).

However, there is widespread corruption and high-level public sector involvement in the lucrative “industry”, and the racism and sexism in Thailand that permit and facilitate this situation usually go unchallenged at all levels of government and in most sectors of society (Gallagher, 2006). In this context, it is worrying that there is also a heavy reliance on law enforcement officers and immigration officials to identify trafficking victims (Pukdeetanakul, 2007).


Also, although confidentiality must be maintained when publicly disclosing information about trafficking victims, there is no regulation of what data can be shared between agencies and within agencies (ibid). As the 'legal sex business' makes up around 14% of the gross domestic product of Thailand (USD 27 billion per year) (Lim, 1998 as quoted in Farley et al., 2003), it is easy to see, though not acceptable, why more has not been done on the ground.

2.4 Ukraine

In 2010, Ukraine was placed in Tier 2 in the US Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report, one level up from its position on the Tier 2 Watch List in 2009 (U.S. Dept. of State); although it does not comply with the minimum standards of law enforcement, it has demonstrated a significant effort to do so, including increasing the number of convicted traffickers who have to serve jail time and improving its capacity to identify victims (U.S. Department of State, 2010). It is a country from which victims originate, a country which other trafficking victims are transported through and a country of destination although to a lesser extent (ibid). Ukrainian victims are usually trafficked to the following countries: Russia, Poland, Turkey, Italy, Austria, Spain, Germany, Portugal, the Czech Republic, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Israel, Greece, Lebanon, Benin, Tunisia, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Slovakia, Syria, Switzerland, the United States, Canada and Belarus (ibid). Together with Russian women, Ukrainian women are a popular ethnic group in the sex market (Hughes, 2000, as quoted in

Kiryan and van der Linden, 2005). It is estimated that over 400,000 women were trafficked from Ukraine to the West from 1991-1998 by both the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the International Organization for Migration (Sulaimanova, 2003). It should be noted that this number is likely grossly underestimated since there is such a large pool of potential migrants and also due to the covert nature of trafficking (Kiryan and van der Linden, 2005).

In Ukraine, prostitution is a relatively new problem, and the biggest issue is that girls as young as 12 years old are now involved (Pyshchulina, 2002). Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, trafficking of women from the former Soviet republics to the West went from next to zero to epidemic proportions (Sulaimanova, 2003). Instead of inviting foreign investment, financial market liberalisation facilitated a large-scale flight of capital from the country, resulting in the masses’ facing large-scale unemployment and a disappearance of social services (Batstone, 2007). Women account for more than 60 percent of job loss in recent years (Sulaimanova, 2003), and now, day care centres that used to be free under the Soviet regime have either been closed or become unaffordable (ibid). The status of women has also declined since the fall of the Soviet Union, which had promoted gender equality, with an increase in domestic violence and rape (ibid). The power vacuum created by the fall of Soviet rule was quickly filled by organized crime who quickly realized that they could exploit the educated, healthy women who had suddenly found themselves unemployed (Batstone, 2007). As Eastern European youth had grown up exposed to Western media, they had an


idealistic view of the West that traffickers could use to deceive them into relocation (ibid).

General recommendations here would be to improve the socio-economic conditions of women, facilitate employment and self-employment and involve NGO’s and other organizations in counter-trafficking at the national level (Kiryan and van der Linden, 2005). Ukrainian NGO’s have reported an increase in victims of trafficking who were only interested in financial support and not support such as psychological counseling, up from 55% to 61% between 2003 and 2004, and only 10-20% of victims wanted job-seeking assistance or skills training (Winrock 2004 as quoted in Brunovskis and Surtees, 2007) ; this is not surprising considering the high educational level of women in the country and the relatively low availability jobs. Some believe that anti-trafficking strategies should be aimed at the traffickers rather than the victims, such as Pyshchulina (2002), but this usually means that they believe victims should not be criminalised, not that development workers should not work with communities on prevention and with victims. Indeed, the same author also mentions the protection of victims and awareness raising campaigns as necessary for curbing trafficking (ibid). This would be helpful as (i) trafficking victims here are often are not aware of local NGO’s and other organizations that could help them in their destination countries (Kiryan and van der Linden, 2005), and (ii), trafficking victims mainly obtained job offers in their home country through social connections and intermediaries (ibid) without the knowledge that the offers could be traps.


In 1998, trafficking in persons was established as a specific offence in Ukraine (UNODC, 2008). Then in 2004, Ukraine ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the Palermo Protocols on trafficking and smuggling (Kiryan and van der Linden, 2005). The following year, the country created the Department for Combating Human Trafficking of the Ministry of the Interior (UNODC, 2009).

However, despite policy and legislative measures, there appears to be little political commitment to fight trafficking (Pyshchulina, 2002). The police here are important to traffickers in sustaining their operations, capturing and returning girls who have escaped, issuing legal business licenses and protecting traffickers from more honest colleagues (Batstone, 2007). So the law enforcement situation with regards to corruption is similar to that in Thailand. Not surprisingly, due to the official complicity here with regards to trafficking, the anti-trafficking efforts in the country are almost entirely international donor funded (U.S. Dept. of State, 2010).

This dissertation was submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the MA in International Community Development, jointly delivered by the University of Westminster and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and it was posted on