Traffickers are using social media to seek out Ukrainian women to lure them into sex trafficking, The Hill reports. As the Russo-Ukrainian war continues, millions of women and children are fleeing into border countries. Traffickers are using this as an opportunity by posing as well-meaning volunteers opening their homes to refugees. Experts believe tech companies could do more to protect refugees and prevent trafficking. As news about the war spread throughout Europe, there was a surge in men going online looking for ways to seek Ukrainian women for sex. In the U.K., Google searches for “Ukrainian escorts” increased by 200 percent between Feb. 27 and March 5. Searches for Ukrainian porn also skyrocketed in Spain and Poland. Services advertising and selling sex with Ukrainian women were found in Sweden and Ireland.
During previous wars, traffickers would meet refugees at an international border, pretending to be volunteers. Now, social media enable such meetings. A Facebook group called “Rooms for Refugees” in the U.K. had to find ways to block trolls and traffickers as the government began offering visas to Ukrainian refugees. However, most of this work is left up to the volunteers running the pages. Diana Shore, who runs the Facebook page, said that red flags to look out for include ads seeking lone women, or offers that seem “too good to be true,” including those that advertise an elite lifestyle or a wealthy family. Google has protections to prevent trafficking, including not showing explicit content in its predictive search bar and in Ukraine, it advertises support for trafficking victims if the user searches any related content. Experts believe more tech companies should be using similar tools to prevent trafficking.