Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Trafficking in Human Beings in Georgia and the CIS

Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Trafficking in Human Beings in Georgia and the CIS

Article excerpt

Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide into conditions amounting to slavery. Among them, many thousands are young women and girls lured, abducted, or sold into forced prostitution and other forms of sexual servitude, in 1997, an estimated 175,000 women and girls were trafficked from Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States, primarily to Western Europe and North America. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is so widespread that it represents a danger to all of humankind. (1)

Research has shown that human trafficking cases for sexual exploitation in the countries of the Central Caucasus Republic have involved more than 10,000 to 15,000 people annually. There are no accurate statistics for cases concerning other forms of exploitation of human beings (trafficking in migrants for sweatshops, domestic or agricultural labor, and other forms of involuntary servitude). (2)

When the Iron Curtain was lifted, barriers were removed between East and West, and the people of the USSR were freed from totalitarianism, social changes occurring in the countries of the former Soviet Union gave rise to a whole new set of difficulties: interethnic conflicts, unemployment and other economic problems, and increased illegal migration, terrorism, organized crime, and corruption. Criminal groups took advantage of the situation and became more involved in drug dealing and prostitution. Human trafficking, a new crime for the former Soviet Union, also grew into a highly attractive and lucrative criminal business. Borders were tightly controlled and movement was limited in the Soviet era; therefore human trafficking, or moving persons across borders for financial gain, simply did not occur before 1991. When the Soviet Union collapsed, law enforcement agencies and border control troops were unprepared for the massive migration flows and the rise in criminality that resulted. New criminal structures are responsible for creating the growing transnational network of prostitution and for exporting young people abroad for various forms of labor exploitation. Many international organizations, including the United Nations and the European Union, have shown great concern for the increase in modern slavery and have taken steps to fight human trafficking. The United Nations established an international definition of human trafficking:

   Trafficking in persons means the recruitment, transportation, transfer,
   harboring or receipt of persons, either by the threat or use of abduction,
   force, fraud, deception or coercion, or by the giving or receiving of
   unlawful payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having
   control over another person, with the aim of submitting them to any form of
   exploitation, [sexual exploitation] includes subjecting to such trafficking
   a child under eighteen years of age, regardless of whether that child has
   consented. (3)

Because trafficking is transnational, efforts need to be focused on international legislation to combat trafficking, and the leaders of all countries need to back the passage of such legislation.

The Soviet legal system was based on a closed totalitarian government and has never had or needed a term such as "human trafficking" because any movement through borders was strictly controlled and limited. The Criminal Code associates the term "human trafficking" with activities such as kidnapping, illegally depriving a person of their freedom, using brothels for sexual purposes, involving adolescents in prostitution, and different forms of sexual violence and seduction.

Defining the Problem in Georgia

Unfortunately, the leaders of many of the CIS countries, including Georgia, have not devoted necessary attention to the problem of human trafficking. In June 1999 at a meeting with Georgia's minister of justice, L. Chanturia, Louise Shelley and I asked about human trafficking in Georgia. …

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