Russian Orphans Vulnerable to Trafficking
Tuesday, March 6, 2007 10:27 AM

Russian girl orphans have a high risk of becoming victims of trafficking.  Nearly 70% of Russia's orphans are girls, and are vulnerable and unprotected due to the lack of family and social support systems.  In fact, Russian orphanages are popular places for pimps and traffickers who recruit or abduct girls into prostitution, with promises of a better life.

Children who grow up in Russian orphanages are ill equipped to participate in society once they are released at the age of 17.  With little education and low social competency, orphans are under prepared for the job market, and many are lured into lives of crime and prostitution.  Most girls growing up in mixed gender orphanages become sexually active at a young age, usually with older boys or male staff.  This often leads to pregnancy, where girls are forced to have abortions or no longer receive services.  It is estimated that 25% of girls have forced abortions by the time they leave orphanages. 

Other girls are abducted or recruited out of orphanages where they are often pushed into prostitution and trafficked into Moscow.  Increased markets for child pornography are blamed for the 3000 estimated children trafficked into Moscow each year.  Many are then sent to other areas of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. 

Social services for victims are extremely limited.  MiraMed, an NGO that provides programs and advocates for Russian orphans, implemented a program for shelters in Moscow.  It is the only of its kind, and is said to reveal the social service system is completely overwhelmed by the number of victims trafficked from orphanages within Russia and other areas of the former Soviet Union.  Because of the lack of services, many victims have no choice but to remain on the street.  MiraMed calls for global action to address the safety of these vulnerable children.

Compiled from: "The Vulnerability of Russian Orphan Girls to Trafficking," by Dr. Juliette M. Engel, Founding Director, MiraMed Institute. February 2007.