Bad actors are leveraging social media groups and communications apps to sexually exploit and traffic Ukrainians seeking shelter and information, amplifying concerns about those dangers in an already high-risk region.
As the war continues and millions of Ukrainians, especially women and children, transition to border nations, potential traffickers are using the same digital spaces where refugees are looking for assistance to spread misinformation or pose as well-meaning volunteers to house those fleeing the conflict. Experts say tech companies could be doing more to protect Ukrainians from those threats amid an apparent rise in demand for trafficking victims from the besieged country.
“I find it really heartbreaking that at the moment when so many people are trying to protect vulnerable women and children, one of the first measurable reactions to the crisis was that men were going online in record breaking numbers trying to figure out how to sexually access those women,” said Val Richey, special representative and coordinator for combating trafficking in human beings at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
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