There are an estimated 794,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Russia (GSI 2018). Women and children are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking in prostitution and pornography. Women are lured by the promise of lucrative employment and a new location, travelling to the country under the pretence of legitimate employment and a better life. However, when they arrive, they are forced into prostitution in brothels, hotels and saunas. There is also evidence of traffickers advertising sexual services of children online. However, despite the evidence of sex trafficking in Russia, it remains an under-recognised area of enslavement in the country. Ira is from a small town in the Vitebsk region of Belarus. Never having a close relationship with her mother, she ran away numerous times. Ira married young and gave birth to a daughter, however the family had little money and no stable accommodation. Ira returned to her mother but found their relationship had not improved. As Ira had little education, it was difficult for her to find a job in her small town. Her neighbour introduced her to a friend from St. Petersburg who earned money by providing escort services. Ira travelled to Russia to work, however upon arrival the work was not what Ira was promised. She found herself forced to provide sexual services to men who could often be violent. Ira escaped one day, jumping from a third story window, sustaining injuries that led to her being unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair. Ira has now found stable employment and has received psychological and reintegration assistance within the counter-trafficking programme implemented by the IOM office in Belarus.
There are an estimated 794,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Russia (GSI 2018). Forced labour remains the predominant form of human trafficking in the country. Labour trafficking has been reported in the construction, manufacturing, logging, textile, and maritime industries, as well as in sawmills, agriculture, sheep farms, grocery and retail shops, restaurants, waste sorting, street sweeping, domestic service, and forced begging. Many migrant workers experience exploitative labour conditions characteristic of trafficking cases, such as withholding of identity documents, non-payment for services rendered, physical abuse, lack of safety measures, or extremely poor living conditions. Vadim*, a 38-year old man from Belarus travelled to Russia for work. He paid a recruiter and agreed to work as a builder for three years. Half of his salary is being kept by his employer until the end of his contract and he is unable to leave.