A study published by The Guardian has described increased interest in Ukraine-related pornography
Analysis of search engine traffic has revealed a growing interest in Ukrainian pornography, The Guardian reported on Sunday, citing a Thomson Reuters study. The findings have sparked concern over the increasing sexual exploitation of refugees.
According to the outlet, researchers found that views of pornographic videos claiming to show Ukrainian refugees have seen a significant rise in the past six months.
The growing interest could be encouraging human traffickers to act more regularly and with greater impunity, Thomson Reuters warned. It called for urgent action to strengthen protection for Ukrainian women and children who are at risk from sexual exploitation.
It was noted that evidence of the sex trafficking of Ukrainians appeared long before Moscow launched its military offensive last year. However, the latest data shows a significant increase in such reports in the past 12 months, while internet searches for terms such as "Ukrainian porn" are at a higher level than ever before, according to the researchers.
The Guardian reports that Thomson Reuters is now working with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to raise awareness of the issue. The pair have launched a campaign to encourage the global community to provide Ukrainians with safety information, and to help spot the warning signs of trafficking.
The OSCE's special representative and coordinator for combating human trafficking, Valiant Richey, told The Guardian that "the high demand from men for sexual access to Ukrainian women and girls creates an enormous incentive for traffickers to recruit vulnerable people in order to meet the demand and profit from it."
"We already found direct evidence of recruitment attempts on chats used by Ukrainians and an increase in the advertisement of Ukrainians online," he added.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, it is estimated that around 8.1 million Ukrainians have fled to Europe since Russia launched its military operation in February 2022. It is believed that around 90% of all Ukrainian refugees are women and children, as Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are banned from leaving the country.