A coalition of Russian women’s groups appealed to President Vladimir Putin to establish a task force to combat trafficking in humans. Citing the US State Department’s recently released Trafficking in Persons report which names Russia as one of 19 countries that failed to take adequate measures to combat the practice, the Angel Coalition said Putin should adopt a plan to “save tens of thousands of Russian women from being lured overseas by criminal traffickers.” Approximately 50,000 women from the former Soviet Union are trafficked abroad every year and forced into sexual slavery, according to human rights advocates.
The State Department released a report on human trafficking at the beginning of the month that claims that there have been 4 million victims of human trafficking over the past year Ð 50,000 in the United States. Traffickers typically confiscate passports and then beat, rape or drug the women in order to ensure compliance, according to victim advocates. The State Department report also said that traffickers “use fraudulent employment, travel, modeling and matchmaking agencies to lure young men and women.” Russia is classified as a third tier country Ð which is known as the blacklist, according to the State Department’s report. “The government of Russia does not yet fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. There is no law specifically against trafficking. Recruitment for prostitution is illegal but not a criminal offense,” reads the report. Countries that make a serious effort to address the problem could avoid sanctions imposed under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Washington Times. The Feminist Majority strongly supported the passage of this law in 2000, joining with several other women’s organizations to advocate for its passage in Congress. The law also authorized $94.5 million for victims of sex trafficking, created special visas for victims of trafficking and slavery, and doubled the maximum penalty for sex trafficking.