Mongolia is affected by trafficking in persons. The reason behind is poverty. Recently Mongolia and Macau signed an agreement to enhance bilateral cooperation in preventing and suppressing human trafficking, especially women and children, but the problem is still very hidden .Interview to Mrs. G.Ganbayasgah - head of Mongolian Gender Equality Center - on human trafficking.
Human trafficking in Mongolia: how many and what kind of people are affected by this problem?
Mongolia has been pursing socialism for 70 years; then democratic revolution in 1990 brought political and socio-economic changes to the country. One of the main changes was free movement of Mongolians and right to travel abroad. Unofficially, there are 250 Mongolians residing in 140 countries. Socio-economic transition followed by unemployment and poverty increase affected on new crimes such as trafficking in persons. Insufficient knowledge on trafficking in persons resulted on increase in this crime. Studies show that the main cause of trafficking within and from Mongolia [to China, South Korea, Malaysia, Macau, Hong Kong, Turkey, Singapore, Israel, Czech Republic etc.] is seeking opportunity to work and study abroad and victims get deceived. Although it is impossible to have an exact statistics on victims of trafficking in Mongolia, since 2003 Gender Equality Center has identified and assisted more than 300 victims of trafficking. Even though Mongolia introduces a clause on trafficking in its Criminal Code in 2002, there were only two cases prosecuted. And since amendment of trafficking clause (Article 113) of Criminal Code in 2008, there have been more than 10 cases resolved in two years.
Why is Mongolia particularly affected by the problem?
Economy of the country is a cause of trafficking; poor economy, high rate of unemployment and poverty are serious causes. Gender discrimination is another cause for, especially, women to be trafficked. Although Mongolia sends labor force abroad through inter-governmental agreements, it is mostly men who take advantage of this opportunity meaning women stay left with no work and they seek opportunities to work abroad by any means. Mongolian laws and regulations [on migration or marriage] affect trafficking because since people do not have opportunities in their home country to work, they seek for other opportunities. Plus, unemployment and poverty cause migration and illegal migration. They prefer to pay for individuals or illegal agencies that are sending people abroad and take risks. Seventy percent of Mongolian population (2.7 million) is young people and traffickers besides using advertisements in media use family or friend networks to recruit their victims thus causing a serious chain of crime. However, once the victim is back to Mongolia, does not testify because of this chain.
Can you tell me a story of one or more Mongolian VoTs (victims of trafficking)?
In March 2009, A... met mediator while she was working as a waiter small cafeteria in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. One time her customer asked how much she earned and offered to help her. The mediator woman told her that she help A to become a beautician and enroll her in such course and added that A can earn a lot of money. As A used to live with her child and four younger siblings and her monthly salary of USD130 was nearly enough to survive. The mediator promised that A will not be engaged in prostitution or alcohol consumption or any other dirty business. They signed an agreement and agreed that the mediator will pay for A's transportation costs and A will pay back from her salary.
May 2009, A... with three other girls departed from Mongolia through the below destination:
1) Ulaanbaatar - Erlian City of China (via Zamiin Uud soum of Dorno-Govi Province) by train;
2) Erlian City - Beijing, China /Taxi/
3) Beijing - Chinghuandao /Picked up by the mediators
Girls started working from the end of May 2009. They were threatened by mediator and forced to prostitute. A.. with other three girls had to serve clients as much as they stayed at the Karaoke VIP room, and had to accompany them throughout the night to provide sex service and were paid CNY 200 for their service, but never were given money.
When the girls refused to prostitute, and said they want to return to Mongolia, mediator forcefully confiscated and kept their travel documents, abused them physically, and forced them to take drugs. Afterwards, A... and other girls were forced to utilize drugs and forced to have sexual interaction with the clients.
Once, A... and the girls used internet secretly and took contact info of the Mongolian Consulate, and contacted with the officials of the Consulate. A... and the girls informed the officials about their situation (sexual exploitation, forced use of drug, and not having a single penny) and pleaded for help, and escaped from the place where they were forced to work.
In June 2009, the girls and A... were repatriated to Mongolia with assistance Embassy of Mongolia to Republic of China, and were referred to GEC.
What are the VoTs trafficked for? Sexual exploitation, organs harvesting and then?
65% of victims approached GEC were trafficked for sexual exploitation, 25% for labor exploitation and 10% for mediated marriage. Average age of victims exploited sexually is between 18 and 25 and there are cases of underage forced prostitution in the country. So far there have not been cases of organ removal registered at law enforcement agencies.
What do you do to face the problem?
GEC provides variety of service to victims and potential victims. We have a 24-hour hotline and 2 shelters (one in UB and border town of Zamiin Uud). We also repatriate and reintegrate victims. For more info please visit our website or following link
What is the government doing to face the problem?
Mongolian government amended its Criminal Code in 2008 and it is compliant with Palermo Protocol, Mongolia has also acceded to Palermo Protocol and developed National Action Plan Against Trafficking. However, there is no centralized system or complex policy to prevent from trafficking, protect victims and prosecute traffickers