Human Trafficking in BelarusBelarus, 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.

Good News

  • 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
Photo: Google

Victims of Trafficking
In addition to their hardships as victims of trafficking, Bangladeshi girls sold to India used to endure living in shelters for prolonged periods of time while waiting for travel permits back to their home country. The Bangladesh High Commission has recently been able to accelerate the repatriation process.

Human trafficking has been a major concern in Bangladesh for many years. Prof. Zakir Hossein from the University of Chittagong summarizes the key issues contributing to trafficking as “poverty, social exclusion, gender-based discrimination, widespread illiteracy, lack of awareness and poor governance.”

According to a 2010 report by the Protection Project, between 10,000 and 20,000 girls and women become victims of trafficking to India, Pakistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates annually, in addition to internal trafficking. The report notes that traffickers also target boys and men.

The Indian state of West Bengal is the hub of human trafficking in India. It shares a long, mostly unfenced border with Bangladesh, which facilitates cross-border trafficking. Many girls tell similar stories: traffickers take advantage of their desperate economic situation and lure them with jobs in India. Once they cross the border, they are sold into modern-day slavery—mostly brothels, but also domestic, farming or textile work.

But, even if rescued, the girl’s hardships do not end there; the girls wait in shelters for their travel permits back home, which is a long and complicated bureaucratic process.

Even after founding an inter-country task force to organize repatriations, many girls stayed in shelters for two to three years. Shiny Padiyara, the superintendent of a shelter operated by Rescue Foundation, describes how waiting affected the girls: “They would get aggressive and in 2015, some girls broke a lot of things and a few ran away,” she said.

As the Thomas Reuters Foundation reports, the Bangladesh High Commission has become increasingly aware of the issue. The commission recently worked on accelerating the repatriation of Bangladeshi girls and women. Mosharaf Hossein, head of the consular section of the commission, cites that he “found girls and also boys from Bangladesh who were suffering a lot, waiting for long [times] to return home, because of our slow investigation,” including girls who had stayed in a government shelter for seven years.

The commission has been able to cut waiting periods significantly to about two to four weeks. In the past six months, over 200 victims of trafficking returned to Bangladesh—the highest number of repatriations in this time span. These girls finally reunited with their families, getting the chance to heal from their traumatic experiences and rebuild their lives.

Lena Riebl

Photo: Flickr