Ukraine (MNN) — Ukraine is known to be a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. The nation's history with prostitution, its easy access to ports, and its ongoing poverty have resulted in thousands of trafficked victims.
In part four of our five-part series following the work of Global Action, we'll take a look into the dark world of trafficking in Ukraine and the ways Global Action is preventing it.
In Ukraine, some boys and girls are sought out directly by traffickers. Global Action president Phil Long says poor children and teens are at high risk.
"The predators have gone in, and they've looked at the culture, they've looked at the promiscuity, they've looked at the lack of education, and they've gone in and preyed on these boys and girls–and actually even into their families," says Long, "The families are in such poverty that they sell their children into the sex trade industry."
In other instances, boys and girls go into the trade somewhat more willingly. Ukraine is a poorer nation than even Ecuador, Iran, or El Salvador. Because of those circumstances, many young people feel they have no other options but prostitution.
In a report by TIME Magazine, a woman working for a group that seeks to reach out to Ukraine's sex workers explains, "The girls see themselves as victims of fate, but not of deception, so they don't ask for help."
In fact, drug abuse, prostitution, and similar self-deprecating habits have become the norm for many. Global Action has come to the conclusion that one of the best ways to pull kids and teens out of this lifestyle is to make sure they never enter it in the first place.
Global Action has been able to infiltrate the school system in Ukraine to provide a form of abstinence education.
"We go into schools and tell kids: ‘You don't have to be addicted to drugs. You don't have to be addicted to alcohol. You don't have to sell yourself into prostitution. This is not normal,'" explains Long. "We begin to train these kids: ‘You don't have to do this. This is not right. It's not normal to be a 10-year-old and be a prostitute.'"
"Then we give them alternatives of that particular lifestyle," adds Long.
Global Action has focused much of their work in Crimea in the port city of Kerch. "We've found that this is a seedbed of human trafficking," says Long. Global Action is slowly tearing up that seedbed, though, as they speak up against these despicable practices and replace them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The biggest needs for the program now are funding and prayer. More funds will always mean more aid, and you can help at globalaction.com. But prayer is most vital of all.
"We're trying to garner prayer support," says Long. "The human trafficking issue is kind of a hot issue. But I don't think a lot of people really understand how dirty that industry really is, and how we're going to have to see a move of God in those areas in order to bust this thing up."
Start praying for Ukraine today.