Eastern Europe can be a dangerous place for children and teenagers, as traffickers prey on the weaknesses of those who are young, naive, and impoverished. As Victor Malarek explains in his book, The Natashas: A New Global Sex Trade, during the Cold War both the Soviet Union and the U.S. were pumping money into the Eastern European countries in exchange for ‘joining their side.’ When the Cold War ended, so did the cash flow, leaving thousands of young girls and women without opportunities for work as economies dried up.
Sex traffickers, who had mostly focused on Asia prior to the Cold War, saw this as an opportunity for expanding their human trafficking operations. Victor Malarek calls this the fourth wave of sex trafficking. They began to seduce young girls and women with jobs in other countries as models, nannies, dancers, and waitresses. Sometimes girls knew they would be working in the sex industry, but never realized they would be enslaved. Others had no idea their fate would be sexual in nature. Either way, traffickers were selling girls by the boatload (literally!) and raking in huge profits.
Eastern European girls are still a target today. Many girls from Romania, Poland, Russia, Hungary, and Ukraine end up in Israel, Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, and England, to name a few.
Love 146, an organization that seeks to end child sex slavery and exploitation, is launching a Cross Border Initiative as part of their European Intervention Program. To do this, they are creating a creative pop culture magazine that contains articles addressing issues that contribute to the vulnerability of young people. Some topics will include domestic violence, gender inequality, economic creativity, and sexual health, and HIV.
I love seeing how this organization is taking such a creative approach in addressing such a dark issue. I look forward to learning how this initiative by Love 146 will make a difference and keep you posted!