Majority of prostitution arrests in Sweden in March were Ukrainian women

Majority of prostitution arrests in Sweden in March were Ukrainian women

  • Thirty of 38 men arrested for prostitution had seen Ukrainian women
  • A Swedish police operation made the shocking discovery in March
  • “It is clear that the women have recently come from Ukraine, but these men do not care”
  • The war in Ukraine has created ideal conditions for human traffickers
  • NGO fears refugees are at risk of human trafficking, prostitution and organ donation

A Swedish police operation that swept up 38 men visiting prostitutes revealed that 30 of them had paid to sleep with exploited Ukrainian women, some of whom were refugees from the war.

‘Operation Cod’, conducted in March, made the shocking discovery that Ukrainian women, often fleeing their homeland alone or with children, were being exploited and trafficked to Sweden to work as prostitutes.

“It’s surprising,” police inspector Simon Häggström told SVT.

“It may be clear from the advertisements that the women have recently come from Ukraine, but these men don’t care,”

“More or less all the women we spoke to say that it was the war that led to prostitution. You have no choice but to sell your body to help your families who are in Ukraine or who are on the run,” Häggström added.

Ukrainian refugees walk on the platform after arriving on a train from Odessa at Przemysl Glowny station in Poland. Sex traffickers are known to approach refugee women at train stations with offers of transport and accommodation

Pictured: Suspected sex traffickers at the Polish-Ukrainian border in Medyka, Poland (their faces have been pixelated for legal reasons)

Pictured: Suspected sex traffickers at the Polish-Ukrainian border in Medyka, Poland (their faces have been pixelated for legal reasons)

A former British Army soldier talks to a Ukrainian refugee mother and her child at the Polish-Ukrainian border.  (His face has been pixelated to protect his privacy)

A former British Army soldier talks to a Ukrainian refugee mother and her child at the Polish-Ukrainian border. (His face has been pixelated to protect his privacy)

Häggström said many women are lured to sex traffickers in Sweden via internet advertisements that promise money and housing in exchange for working as prostitutes.

“The traffickers attract [women] with flat rate solutions where they pay for travel and accommodation.

“Then there are the so-called operators who act as intermediaries between women and sex buyers. Everything is very organized,” Inspector Häggström said.

The war in Ukraine has caused a huge increase in migration and displacement, as more than four million Ukrainians have fled their homeland as refugees, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR – mostly women and children, because the men had to stay.

This has created chaotic conditions at border crossings and train stations with neighboring countries such as Poland, which are ideal locations for sex traffickers.

Shirin Tinnesand, refugee and migration coordinator at the NGO, said Ukrainian refugees risk being exposed to human trafficking, prostitution and organ donation.

“Only the imagination sets the limits.”

Ukrainian refugees arriving at a reception and information hall at the port of Nynashamn, about 60 km south of Stockholm, Sweden.  Many sex traffickers dress like aid workers to blend in and operate undetected.

Ukrainian refugees arriving at a reception and information hall at the port of Nynashamn, about 60 km south of Stockholm, Sweden. Many sex traffickers dress like aid workers to blend in and operate undetected.

“It is a fact that smugglers claim to be volunteers who go to places where it is chaotic and where there is no clear organization and the more people who come, the more it becomes discreet and with it easier for smugglers and criminal organizations to operate,’ Tinnesand said.

Tinnesand says video footage seen by his organization appears to show a man wearing a yellow vest with a volunteer written on his back approaching Ukrainian women at the main train station in Krakow, Poland, and offering them food and accommodation. free for a year if they take a “special bus” to Germany.

“We can’t say he’s a trafficker, but that’s often how they work, come to collection areas and strategically seek out single women, young women,” Tinnesand said.

She added that many of them dress like aid workers to blend in and operate undetected.

“It is a fact that smugglers claim to be volunteers who go to places where it is chaotic and where there is no clear organization and the more people who come, the more it becomes discreet and with it easier for smugglers and criminal organizations to operate,’ Tinnesand said.

As Putin’s war in Ukraine enters a new phase and the Ukrainian government orders all civilians to leave the Donbass, the flow of refugees to Europe is not going to let up anytime soon.

“He promised me a new life in the United States”

A Ukrainian refugee described how she narrowly escaped the clutches of an American trafficker posing as a UN volunteer.

Margaerita Plotnick was with her mother and teenage cousin when she was approached at a refugee reception center by the stranger who offered to take her to the United States.

It wasn’t until the suspicious 25-year-old waitress secretly checked US entry requirements for Ukrainian refugees that she discovered the foreigner was lying.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday after traveling to Ireland, Margaerita said: “I was lucky to escape. I could have fallen victim to this predator.

Margaerita was approached after 33 days of Russian shelling and a shortage of food and water forced her to leave her home in Kharkiv.

Finally safe: Margaerita Plotnick (pictured) has found refuge in Ireland

Finally safe: Margaerita Plotnick (pictured) has found refuge in Ireland

When she and her family members arrived at the Polish border, they were taken by bus to a large industrial site on the outskirts of Przemysl, which has been turned into a reception center for refugees.

They were delighted to be offered accommodation in the Irish city of Limerick after registering. “We thought we were safe,” she said.

But Margaerita was approached by “George”, a 44-year-old Russian speaker with an American passport who told her he ran an import and export business in America.

“He wore a yellow jacket like the other volunteers and he had an official wristband, which meant he was cleared for transportation,” Margaerita said. “He told me he was from the UN.

She said George’s initially affable charm changed when she declined his offer. “We refused but he kept asking,” she said.

Margaerita alerted a helpline volunteer at the center, who challenged the stranger.

‘George’ was escorted by security and banned from all humanitarian centers in Poland. The US Embassy is investigating.

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