July 16, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Ukrainian refugees are turned into objects of sexual exploitation

Newspaper journalists The Guardianreferring to a sociological study by Thomson Reuters, note the increased interest in pornography, allegedly depicting refugees from Ukraine.

While Ukrainians were deeply affected by sexual exploitation and human trafficking even before the outbreak of the war, recent evidence suggests a significant increase in this phenomenon in the wake of the Russian invasion.

While there was evidence of sexual exploitation and trafficking by some Ukrainians prior to the start of the war, recent data shows a significant increase since the Russian invasion. Global search traffic for exploitative terms such as “Ukrainian porn” has consistently been at a high level ever since.

Since then, search queries with the “Ukrainian porn” tag have been growing steadily around the world. For example, in the UK, the number of search queries on the topic “Ukrainian escort” has increased by 200% compared to six months before the start of the war, in Spain by 600%, and in Poland – by 130%.

An analysis of Internet search trends showed that the number of views of pornographic videos allegedly showing Ukrainian refugees has increased dramatically over the past six months. An analysis of 13 videos showed that they were viewed 275,000 times in January.

Thomson Reuters is currently working closely with the OSCE to highlight this trend as much as possible and prevent cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of Ukrainian citizens to the extent possible. The organization called for urgent action to strengthen the protection of Ukrainian women and children at risk of sexual exploitation. Thomson Reuters and the OSCE have launched a “Be Safe” campaign to call on the global community to provide Ukrainians with security information and help spot warning signs of human traffickers. Valiant Ritchie, OSCE Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Human Trafficking, said:

“This analysis shows how important it is to ensure the safety of women and children fleeing war. The high demand from men for sexual access to Ukrainian women and girls creates a huge incentive for traffickers to recruit vulnerable people to meet this demand and profit from it. We have already found direct evidence of recruitment attempts in chat rooms used by Ukrainians and an increase in advertising of Ukrainians on the Internet.”

The new data is based on “interest scores” that are directly related to search traffic and compare the popularity of a term over a given period. An earlier analysis in 2022 showed that since the outbreak of the war, there has been a sharp increase in the number of search queries on the global Internet for sexually exploitative terms referring to Ukrainian refugees. In March 2022, a study revealed a 300% increase in the number of such terms in the world. Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France and Switzerland also saw increases in searches for these terms. Heather Fisher, senior human rights crime adviser at Thomson Reuters, said:

“Our latest analysis of data from 2023 shows that online requests for humiliating material concerning displaced Ukrainians are driving traffickers to coerce, lure, sexually exploit women and children. We are working with the OSCE to mobilize the global community to recognize the need to act now and protect vulnerable people from exploitation.”

At a hearing in the European Parliament last November, evidence was heard that Ukrainians are at high risk of ending up in prostitution networks or the porn industry, and many of them are increasingly being recruited through online platforms.

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