Belarus, located in Eastern Europe, is one of the world’s worst offenders of human trafficking. Belarus is a 3rd tier country, meaning it requires severe interference in addressing this issue and exploitation of its citizens. While human trafficking in Belarus has decreased since 2006, it still remains a big problem.
- Human trafficking violations in Belarus have dropped from 555 in 2004 to 184 in 2016. While crimes are declining, there is still a great need within the Government of Belarus to create legislation that will eliminate human trafficking.
- Belarusian women are most likely to be exported to countries of Western Europe but also to Russia and the Middle East.
- Women are victims of trafficking more than men.
- There were more than 20,000 sex workers in 2016.
- In the 2018 Trafficking in Person report, Belarus did not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.
- Vulnerable unemployed families find informal ads and notices guaranteeing them a steady job with high wages. Human trafficking offenders design these ads to lure in women, men and children and force them to work in dangerous, low-paying jobs.
- Belarus has cooperated with human trafficking organizations to set billboards across the region that highlight the dangers of trafficking and provide a hotline number for victims.
- Belarus is working with other Western countries to set foreign policies that will downgrade human trafficking crimes across the globe.
- Non-governmental organizations received more than $11,000 from Government to provide victims of human trafficking with psychological and medical assistance.
- IomX is a campaign that encourages safe migration and put an end to exploitation and human trafficking. The organization teaches journalists how to effectively report trafficking in a way that would not only raise public awareness but offer treatment for victims as well.
- Belarus continues to host international conferences that define human trafficking as a concern and outline actions for combatting these problems in Belarus and overseas. At the first forum on human trafficking, 20 international organizations and over 100 non-governmental organizations came to speak against the trafficking crimes.
- Belarusians migrate to Russia in hopes of finding work, only to fall victim to forced labor and severe exploitation. Before the Government of Belarus investigates issues in other countries, they must fix the state-sponsored labor. Forced labor of soldiers and prisoners violates workers rights and allows the corruption to take place inside the country. Not only does the Government needs to open more jobs in Belarus, but there should also be regulations of the labor force to prevent exploitation of workers.
- There are limited treatment centers and mental health support for victims of human trafficking. To ensure these victims receive substantial care, services need to be accessible to all victims and treatment centers should focus on specific needs to combat further mental trauma.
- In 2014, no trafficking offenders were convicted. The Government of Belarus needs to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes and investigate offenders on their knowledge of other human trafficking sites.
While Belarus is still a 3rd Tier country, measures taken from the Government of Belarus and NGO’s will ensure a steady decline of human trafficking crimes for the years to come.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a national, toll-free hotline, available for calls, texts, and live chats from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 200 languages. If you are in need of assistance, call 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233722).
– Lilly Hershey-Webb