“We’ve got reports from the ground about specific attempts – even at Ben-Gurion Airport – to lure female refugees from Ukraine into prostitution.”

An official from the human trafficking authority tells Shomrim that “there has also been a spike in online demand for what’s referred to as ‘new Ukrainian women.’” The National Anti-Trafficking Coordination Unit is unsurprised by the phenomenon and says that, in the coming days, it plans to set up information kiosks for female refugees arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport. “We’re thinking on our feet,” says Attorney Dina Dominitz, the unit director. A Shomrim report.

An official from the human trafficking authority tells Shomrim that “there has also been a spike in online demand for what’s referred to as ‘new Ukrainian women.’” The National Anti-Trafficking Coordination Unit is unsurprised by the phenomenon and says that, in the coming days, it plans to set up information kiosks for female refugees arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport. “We’re thinking on our feet,” says Attorney Dina Dominitz, the unit director. A Shomrim report.

An official from the human trafficking authority tells Shomrim that “there has also been a spike in online demand for what’s referred to as ‘new Ukrainian women.’” The National Anti-Trafficking Coordination Unit is unsurprised by the phenomenon and says that, in the coming days, it plans to set up information kiosks for female refugees arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport. “We’re thinking on our feet,” says Attorney Dina Dominitz, the unit director. A Shomrim report.

Daniel Dolev

A young woman weeps as she prepares to flee Europe and Putin's war. Photo: Reuters

March 16, 2022

Summary

In the past few days, there have been reports in the international media about people trying to lure women who have fled the horror of war in Ukraine into prostitution. Most of these women left alone and without their belongings – men aged 18 to 60 are not permitted to leave the country – have turned them into easy prey for pimps in the countries that take them in. In Berlin, for example, the German government recently put up posters in railways stations in German and Ukrainian, warning the refugees not to accept dubious offers of accommodation. In Israel, too, it now appears that there have been similar attempts.

“We have received reports from the ground about specific attempts – even at Ben-Gurion Airport – that people have been turning up and trying to lure these women into prostitution. The same is happening at the hotels where these women are staying,” an official from the government body which deals with human trafficking told Shomrim. According to the official, who asked to remain anonymous, “there has also been a spike in online demand for what’s referred to as ‘new Ukrainian women.’”

In the past few days, the Population Authority has encountered women from Ukraine who, during their questioning by border inspectors, said that they had paid thousands of dollars to Israelis to organize their arrival in Israel, including, for example, renting apartments for them. In exchange, the women undertook to repay the money as housekeepers or sex workers. Authorities believe that several hundred women have entered Israel this way.

According to the Population Authority, since the outbreak of the war, 10,28 Ukrainian citizens have arrived in Israel and 944 have left. In the past 24 hours alone, 1,223 Ukrainians landed at Ben-Gurion Airport, 11 of whom were refused entry. The director of the Population Authority, Tomer Moskowitz, recently told a Knesset hearing that Israel had, in his words, “banished” 247 Ukrainians since the start of the fighting, including “those who came here to engage in prostitution, some of whom were victims of human trafficking who were brought over from there.”

Attorney Dina Dominitz, the director of the National Anti-Trafficking Coordination Unit at the Justice Ministry, adds that “in normal times, a large percentage of the victims of human trafficking are from Ukraine, especially for prostitution. We know that organized crime groups and traffickers are always motivated to bring Ukrainian women here, and they take advantage of the fact that there’s no requirement for a tourist visa.”

According to Dominitz, Israel identifies between 50 and 80 victims of human trafficking every year, around half of whom were brought here to work in prostitution. “Of them, a relatively large proportion comes from Ukraine and, of course, that figure only relates to the women that we manage to locate and identify,” Dominitz explains that the difficulty in identifying trafficking victims stems from the fact that these women arrive as tourists, without needing a visa, and for the most part they leave Israel within the allotted timeframe. As such, they are not immediately apparent as victims of trafficking. “That was the pattern we knew before the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, and when war broke out, we quickly realized that there would be a spike in the efforts to take advantage of the terrible situation these female refugees find themselves in. After all, most of the new arrivals are women since the men are not allowed to leave.”

Dominitz says that the Israeli government plans to emulate the Germans and set up an information kiosk at Ben-Gurion Airport, warning women arriving from Ukraine about the dangers. “We’re thinking on our feet, and we’re working with various organizations to make sure that the women arriving here get information in their language. We’ll give them the phone number of a national helpline that we will set up, where there will be Russian and Ukrainian speakers who can help them find the help they need. We’ll also tell them to look out for the warning signs – if someone offers them something, for example, or asks to hold on to their passport. All of this is being set up right now and we hope to have the airport kiosk, which will also distribute information within a few days.”

Beyond this, the plan is to provide broader assistance to female refugees from Ukraine who fall victim to abuse and trafficking. “We have several programs, old and new, which were set up after the government decided to provide more help to women in prostitution. We want to make sure that we can provide such assistance to women who arrive here and find themselves in prostitution, in whatever form, or women who were brought here specifically for that purpose.”

This is a summary of shomrim's story published in Hebrew.
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