Kharkiv Orphans Learned How to Prevent from Falling Prey to Human Traffickers

2 May 2012

A range of counter-trafficking trainings for orphaned students and graduates of vocational schools was conducted in Kharkiv with IOM Ukraine?s support. Over 160 students attended the course, standing for over a half of orphaned and left-behind boys who study in Kharkiv vocational schools. According to IOM Ukraine, young boys and men suffer the most from labour exploitation in Ukraine and abroad. Orphaned and left-behind teenagers are one of the most vulnerable groups. Oleksandr Polianskyi from the Kharkiv NGO ?Your Right? explains that ?very often orphans quit their first job because of a relatively low salary incomparable to the allowance in shelters. Willing to ?make a quick buck? they often agree to irregular employment.?

Boys who attended the training broadened their knowledge. Some of them were convinced that they can?t become victims of human trafficking because of the myths that only young girls and children ?for organs? are vulnerable groups. After the training, boys changed their mind and claimed that now they would be very careful when preparing for a trip abroad and collect as much information about their future employer as possible.

When discussing typical cases, one of the boys said that a friend of his found himself in a very similar situation but didn?t consider himself being a victim of human trafficking because he was exploited near Moscow and not far abroad.

According to IOM Ukraine?s Senior Counter-Trafficking Programme Officer Hanna Antonova, the problem of orphans and children from families in crisis where parents are on a verge of losing their parental right, is on a national scale. ?For instance in Mykolayiv where our partner NGO conducted training for local orphanage pupils, 20 per cent of children from the group I?ve met were former victims of exploitation and trafficking.?

From 2000 to 2011 IOM Ukraine assisted over 500 child victims of trafficking. Since 2010 the number of boys identified as victims has been rapidly growing. Last year 33 of them were identified in comparison with 37 girls.

The Project ?Prevention of Trafficking in Men Campaign among Orphaned Students and Graduates of Vocational Schools? is implemented in the framework of IOM Ukraine?s Counter-Trafficking Programme with the financial support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).