Why does sex business work so well?

Ukraine has become a popular destination for sex tourists in recent years. Women’s rights movements denounce this trend and accuse the government of promoting prostitution. In annual reports, the US State Department assesses the situation of victims of human trafficking in various states. The current report classifies Ukraine as a country that does not meet the standards for the protection of victims, but is on the right track. Nevertheless, no measures have been taken to prevent trafficking in human beings in order to meet the demand for sex for sale.

While in recent years Ukraine was the country of origin and transit for human trafficking, unlike healthy escorts en barcelona, according to the US State Department the country has meanwhile developed into a target country. The majority of those affected are smuggled for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

No data on prostitution

The women’s rights organisation La Strada is campaigning against the sexual exploitation of women and children in Ukraine. However, they cannot provide exact data on prostitution. “It is difficult to give concrete figures because there are no official statistics. This phenomenon has never been investigated,” Natalia Borchkor of La Strada Ukraine told EURACTIV.de.

All that remains for La Strada employees is research on the Internet. “We’ve been investigating forums for tourists to exchange ideas. And then it became clear that Ukraine is primarily known for sex tourism,” Borchkor said. Most sex tourists would therefore come mainly from European countries.

Femen activist Shevchenko says she lives in a society where no one is willing to listen to women unless they are naked. Consequently, the members of the women’s rights movement use their bodies as a “weapon” to draw attention to grievances.

With slogans like “Ukraine is not a brothel” and “Sexism is slavery” Femen demonstrated before and during the European Championship. Brutal intimidation and imprisonment were the consequence of their actions for some members. Shevchenko observed an expansion of the sex industry in the run-up to the European Championships: “Before the championship, many new brothels were opened with English advertising for tourists. The sex industry is modelled on the fast food industry, it is cheap, easily available and available everywhere.”

Link between the sex industry and the authorities?

“The government is interested in developing this business because there is a lot of money in it. The police are protecting these brothels and working with the pimps,” Shevchenko said. Borchkor of La Strada is also aware of the link between the pimps and the authorities, although she lacks evidence of it. “Prostitution is illegal in Ukraine. So there must be connections if this business can flourish,” Borchkor said. According to the International Labour Organization, high unemployment and the associated poverty have been driving more and more women into prostitution in recent years.

According to the UN, 1.1 percent of the Ukrainian population between the ages of 15 and 64 are currently infected with the HIV virus – the highest figure in Europe. The UN programme on HIV and AIDS ranks sex workers alongside prisoners, drug addicts and orphans among the groups of people who have more difficult access to treatment for their illness. The risk of infection is particularly high among prostitutes and drug addicts.

Sexual exploitation of children

Another problem is the high proportion of minors in the sex industry. According to Borchkor, in cases of child abuse, especially in rural areas, the perpetrator would not be prosecuted, but the child would be accused of prostitution. Due to the high level of corruption, the perpetrators would usually go unpunished. La Strada Ukraine criticises in its 2011 annual report that Ukraine has not yet ratified the Council of Europe resolution on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and abuse, which was signed in 2007. The same applies to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in the Field of International Adoption.