Criminal groups are trying to involve Ukrainian refugees in sexual exploitation. The Red Cross warned the police of Catalonia about this, writes El Pais. Women are reportedly lured by unidentified persons with offers of asylum.
Organizations working with refugees have been sounding the alarm for several weeks now because of mafia activity at the border points of Ukraine. Criminal gangs involved in the trafficking of women and children are trying to lure women into sex exploitation networks, making false promises of asylum in record time and taking advantage of their vulnerable position. The representative office of the Red Cross in Catalonia discovered that the mafia is now operating not only at the border points, but also in Barcelona. The humanitarian organization has alerted the Spanish police to launch an investigation.
More than 200 refugees arrive in the Catalan capital every day. If in the first weeks after the start of the operation, women and children stayed with friends or host families, now they come without anything, and they have no one to turn to. The Red Cross interviews all arrivals to understand their needs and put people in hotels. According to an employee of the organization, it was during one such survey that an “exceptional case” was discovered. The women claimed that they had someone to turn to in Spain, although in fact they did not know these people. They got their contacts when they crossed the borders. The Red Cross shared their suspicions with the civilian police. Law enforcement identified the identity of the refugee and obtained the telephone number of the suspicious contact. A spokeswoman for the regional police said on Wednesday that no link to human exploitation has yet been established, although such reports have been received.
The Catalan police are not yet aware of what happened in Valencia on March 16. According to the newspaper Levante-EMV, two women told their interpreter at the railway station, Joaquín Sorolla, that while they were still in Ukraine, they received a call from a woman. She introduced herself as an employee of the Red Cross, promised to meet them at the station and take them to their apartment. The humanitarian organization reported a strange call to the local police, and the refugees were taken under guard.
For weeks, uniformed and plainclothes police have been monitoring the arrival of refugees at train and bus stations across Spain to identify those who approach the women and try to take advantage of their helplessness. The Red Cross claims that they are trying to find out through surveys whether someone suspicious has contact with refugees, and as soon as they have doubts, they report the facts to the police.
Activist from Ukraine Maria Dmitrieva.
“The situation is very difficult, and it will probably get worse,” she told the Israeli publication. News social activist from Ukraine Maria Dmitrieva. She is the founder and leader of the UA Feminism community, where women share their stories and help each other.
“A few Ukrainian shelters for victims of sexual and domestic violence have now been converted into refugee reception centers. Therefore, it is very difficult for women suffering from violence to get support, the police are busy with other things. While the country is at war, women living with abusers have practically nowhere to turn for help. Women’s organizations those who have been doing this kind of work in recent decades are working to break.”
– What cases are reported to you?
– Very different, there were several complaints about husbands who took advantage of the general confusion and abducted children from women who demanded a divorce. We all know that war acts as a catalyst for violence, but, obviously, the true extent of the phenomenon will become known later.
Most of all, Maria is worried about messages from the borders between Ukraine and European countries, which have become the gateway to salvation for many Ukrainian women. But it is there that people await them, seeking to use the disaster for their own purposes.
– Poland is now actively accepting refugees from Ukraine, most of those who meet are volunteers who help to get to the cities and provide everything necessary. But there have already been several reports that women have been kidnapped. We are talking about girls and young women with children. Moreover, this information came from those who managed to escape from the kidnappers. And what happened to those who may have already fallen into the clutches of criminals, and we do not know about it?
– But how can you take and steal a person in front of other refugees?
– You see, women are offered tremp, but they are not taken to refugee centers, but in an unknown direction. At the border, refugees are already being warned not to get into cars with strangers, including women. But it is difficult to understand how this advice works in a mass evacuation. Volunteers have special vests, and you should be very careful. There were also reports that women were offered transportation to Warsaw, and in the middle of the way they called a fabulous price for refugees and demanded to pay with the body.
– From what other countries does such information come from?
– There are reports from Germany that on the men’s forums people have become more active, rejoicing that now “young Ukrainian women will be brought.” Obviously, people interested in delivering women to brothels or into sexual slavery can operate on the borders. It will be extremely difficult to save the victims later, so it is important that refugees are aware of such a danger and be extremely careful.
– What was the scale of prostitution in Ukraine before the war, and how did it change with its beginning?
– We have big problems with accurate data in this area. A couple of months before the outbreak of hostilities, the Ministry of Social Policy published a report for 2021: the status of a victim of human trafficking was granted to 51 women and 46 men. But we do know from international data that the majority of people who end up in sexual or labor slavery are women and girls. That is, it is obvious that women in Ukraine simply do not seek help from social services or the police in such cases. The numbers, I think, are much higher in reality. Moreover, the police prefer to detain women filmed on webcams, as there is an article for creating and distributing pornography, but when they are informed about brothels and sexual slavery, they show much less enthusiasm. The system is not aimed at helping women.
– Which categories of women are most vulnerable to violence?
– We do not have exact data – also because women “in the sex business industry”, as we call it, are assisted by HIV-service organizations. Their data does not include information on women under 18 years of age. Either they ignore it, or they don’t work with minors, their statistics start at the age of 18. We know that it is easier for women who are not economically protected to become involved in such activities and become victims of sexual slavery. Often in such a situation there are girls from rural areas who have moved to cities, deprived of earnings, etc.
– Are there official statistics on how many women are involved in the sex industry?
– For the last couple of years, official statistics say about 100,000 women. Now this data, obviously, will change.
Bild: Ukrainian woman was raped by Nigerian and Iraqi with Ukrainian passports
A 49-year-old man was recently arrested in Poland, who lured a 19-year-old Ukrainian refugee to his place under the guise of giving her asylum and raped her. In Dusseldorf, Germany, two migrants from Iraq and Nigeria raped an 18-year-old Ukrainian woman. Moreover, both migrants in some mysterious way also received Ukrainian passports.
The first reports have already appeared that young Ukrainian women are being offered housing in exchange for sex with apartment owners. Such a case, for example, is being investigated in Belgium.
In general, stories about how gangs of human traffickers operate in Europe under the guise of “volunteers” helping refugees from the war zone are becoming more and more in social networks.
The Dutch newspaper NRC talked to some girls in a Polish camp for Ukrainian refugees. Those are told that they themselves must determine the country of further residence, but for this they need to find someone who will agree to accept them. Hence the use of ads in social networks, communication with unknown people, among whom may be perverts, the risks of falling into exploitation and becoming victims of human traffickers. It looks like Europe, with the advent of so many cheap labor and especially vulnerable people (especially children), is entering a new era of the slave trade.