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  • Thumbnail for Sex trafficking of women in Post-Soviet Russia : the role of organized crime and patriarchy
    Sex trafficking of women in Post-Soviet Russia : the role of organized crime and patriarchy by Eyraud, Angela

    Sex trafficking of women in post-Soviet Russia is an expansive, pervasive and largely unmitigated problem. Hundreds of thousands of women are trafficked annually into the extremely violent, brutal, coercive and manipulative world of forced prostitution. The causes of this fundamental human rights problem are multitude and highly intertwined. The primary causes of sex trafficking in post-Soviet Russia are organized crime and patriarchy. Both of these factors have roots in the Soviet period, but it was their evolution during the transition to market-democracy which led to the burgeoning of sex trafficking. The transitional period allowed for organized crime and patriarchy to be free of Soviet restraints and subsequently become more powerful, intense, and unbounded. Organized crime entrenched itself in practically all areas of society primarily through near domination of the economy and infiltration of the political sphere. As part of the rejection of the more feminist aspects of communism in post-Soviet Russia, patriarchy became institutionalized in the economic, political, and social spheres. The combination of organized crime and patriarchy, coupled with the gendered effects of the transition, resulted in an overall Russian society that was and continues to be oppressive, demeaning, physically harmful, and unfriendly toward women. Women in post-Soviet Russia are essentially second-class citizens; the government is unresponsive to most female-oriented problems. Russian women have also experienced a feminization of poverty, extremely high unemployment, and a lack of legitimate economic opportunities. The dire economic circumstances and the patriarchal atmosphere in post-Soviet Russia have disproportionately hurt women. As a result, women increasingly began to look abroad in hopes of attaining a better life and good job. A staggering number of women then become victims of sex trafficking in the process of attempting to emigrate. It is important to understand that it is the combination of organized crime and patriarchy, and all the permeating effects of both, that has caused pervasive sex trafficking. Both factors were equally critical in shaping the environment against which women were reacting, and becoming victims of forced prostitution in the process. Sex trafficking of women in post-Soviet Russia is largely overlooked and will continue to grow until the Russian government begins to take the problem seriously and addresses the negative influences of organized crime and patriarchy.