An Informative Excerpt from David Batstone’s “Not For Sale”

One of the best books on the subject of human trafficking is “Not For Sale” by David Batstone. we would go so far as to say it is a textbook that should sit on the top of every abolitionists desk. You can order it HERE

The following section, taken from the book, does an excellent job of explaining the rise of human trafficking in Eastern Europe. Enjoy!

Post Soviet Era = Human Trafficking Bonanza


The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 did not deliver the lofty benefits that many of its freed republics envisaged. The early intoxication of self-government and individual liberty gave way to depression once economic realities hit home. The liberalization of the financial markets had promised to open a porthole for new investment. Instead, the reforms turned into convenient escape hatches for a massive flight of capital.

Life under the communist regime was no bed of roses, of course. But at least jobs—however menial—could be found, and few people starved. While a small elite amassed wealth at an astounding rate in the 1990s, the masses faced skyrocketing unemployment and disappearing social services. Under this pressure, families struggled to stay intact. The dramatic rise in alcoholism among men did not make that task any easier. Orphanages sprang up across the region to support abandoned children. The disintegration of Moscow’s iron rule left a power vacuum in its former republics. Organized crime quickly moved in to seize ripe opportunities. Often the criminals turned out to be former communist officials who used their powerful connections for personal enrichment. A new breed of crooked capitalists who held no scruples about their business transactions also arose. The rule of law became a sham, for sale to the highest bidder. Almost immediately in the post-Soviet era, mafiosi turned a huge profit selling guns and drugs.

It did not take the syndicates long to realize that their republics had another gold mine worth exploiting: educated, healthy young women who suddenly found themselves destitute. Women got hit with the brunt of unemployment after the fall of the Iron Curtain. In the Ukraine, for instance, females comprised 80 percent of the population who lost jobs in the 1990s. Unemployment rates for women ranged between 70 and 80 percent in most of the former Soviet republics. Yet despite the difficulty of finding a job, women were often expected to shoulder responsibility for the survival of their family. Human traffickers had the ideal candidates to trade in the global sex market and the perfect ruse to recruit them.

Eastern European youths have grown up with a fascination for the West. They watch its movies, listen to its music, and crave its consumer luxuries. To be offered a job and an apartment in western Europe would be a dream come true for many young people. Even the threat of danger would not dissuade them. By the end of the 1990s, sordid tales started leaking back home about what happened to girls who migrated to the West. Despite these red flags, golden dreams of emigration persist. A study conducted in the Ukraine in the late 1990s revealed that three out of four girls between the ages of ten and nineteen expressed a strong desire to work abroad.2 Some girls fall for the glamor of a luxurious lifestyle, while others hope to become the financial savior of their family. Whatever the allure, traffickers use it for their deception.”

Batstone, David (2008). Not for Sale (pp. 163-164). HarperCollins