NEWS

Poor women with dependents

These days the majority of trafficked women in Greece come from Moldavia, Romania, Ukraine, Belorussia and Bulgaria; in the past they were from Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. After the collapse of the eastern bloc in 1989, organized crime began the mass trafficking of women to the European Union. In many EU member countries, traffickers only stay in prison one or two years and then go back to work unhindered. Traffickers make an estimated 120,000 euros a year for each woman they traffic, and they are prepared to bribe, even to kill, anyone who stands between them and their profits. Recent statistics from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reveal that most victims of trafficking are poor women of little education with one or more children or dependents. The figures show that 79.5 percent of them are single mothers, divorced or widows with family responsibilities; only 10.4 percent are married. Traffickers are both male and female, and at some stages in the process as many as 50 percent of the traffickers are women. In 60 percent of cases, the recruiter is a stranger, in 30 percent a friend, and in fewer cases it is a friend or family member. Of those trafficked, 30 percent have never worked before and 57 percent have some work experience. Only 1.2 percent of the women have worked in the sex industry before. One hopeful sign is that there have been information campaigns in the former eastern bloc countries. IOM ran a campaign in Moldavia last summer where a minibus traveled to 52 selected areas for more than a month, stopping at every campsite, village and city. Members of the organization gave interviews and distributed information about what migration to the EU really means. The campaign tied in with a television spot and telephone hotline which received more than 5,000 calls in the first six weeks. Seventy percent of the calls came from rural areas and from young women, which exactly fits the profile of the women who are the traffickers’ prime target.