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Ukraine war shows need for Nordic Model

Commercial Sexual Exploitation
6 June 2022

A leading anti-trafficking organisation has said that the threat posed to Ukrainian refugees by sex traffickers underlines the need for politicians across Europe to challenge demand for sex through legislation.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, an inter-governmental group of 57 states, notes growing reports of "men seeking to deceive and coerce women fleeing war into sexual exploitation".

CARE and other organisations have warned of an acute trafficking risk since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February spurred a mass displacement of Ukrainian nationals.

The OSCE said the risks Ukrainian women are facing "can feel like a tragedy we are simply forced to bear witness to, a threat beyond our control" but stressed that this is "not the case".

Describing action that politicians across Europe can take in the wake of the crisis, the organisation stressed that demand for sex enables exploitative industries to flourish, and this can be challenged.

"Even before the war, Ukraine was one of Europe’s ‘source countries’ for international sex trafficking... The UK was, and continues to be, a ‘destination country’ for this crime", it said.

"Sex traffickers are confident that if they bring their victims to the UK, there will be a highly profitable level of demand from men willing and wanting to pay to sexually exploit them."

The OSCE added: "Countries that do not criminalise sex-buying experience higher rates of sex trafficking. A growing number of nations are responding to this reality by criminalising paying for sex".

"France, Ireland and Israel are among the most recent. While rarely used, England and Wales have a law criminalising paying for sex with a person subject to force. Even that limited deterrent isn’t in place in Scotland.

"As current events demonstrate, government action can’t come quickly enough. Countries with high levels of demand and low deterrents can be magnets for sex traffickers preying on the vulnerable.

"Laws that tackle online pimping and deter demand from sex buyers are an important step in preventing the exploitation of women fleeing war in Ukraine. As an international community, we have the power and the duty to act."

CARE campaigns for the purchase of sex to be criminalised and is working with Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to see legislative change.

Our wider vision for society involves countering all forms of commercial sexual exploitation, and affirming the truth that human beings are made for purpose, not purchase.

To find out more about our work, visit our cause page | CARE for Commercial Sexual Exploitation | CARE

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Commercial Sexual Exploitation

We believe people were made for purpose, not purchase. Exploitation within the sex industry affects some of the most vulnerable in our society. CARE is working for better laws to protect them.

Find out more about the cause