IOM and MTV EXIT warn Ukrainian youth about dangers of trafficking

20 November 2013

The IOM Mission in Ukraine supported and MTV EXIT counter-trafficking campaign.MTV EXIT’s new documentary “Trading Lives”, hosted by popular singer Jamala, gives Ukrainians insight into the human trafficking trade through first-hand accounts from victims, and provides clear actions young people can take to stay safe when considering work abroad.

The documentary premiered to media, government officials and NGO partners in Kyiv on 19 November, and will air nation-wide on 5th Channel at 15:10 on 1 December.

“MTV EXIT’s goal is to educate young people about this critical social issue, encourage them to be vigilant when travelling abroad and ensure they know how to take action if they suspect human trafficking,” said Matt Love, Director, MTV EXIT.

Directed by award-winning Vera Yakovenko, “Trading Lives” tells the stories of: Marina, an interior designer who was promised a job in a sewing factory but is trafficked to Moscow for sex work; Oksana, a salesperson burdened by debt who is trafficked into forced 18-hour long labor; and Oleg, a young builder trying to save money to buy a car, exploited in construction work in Russia.

“I encourage my fans to watch ‘Trading Lives’ and share the information they learn with their family and friends. Together we can stop people from falling into the human trafficking trap,” said Jamala.

“Trading Lives” was produced in partnership with the Embassy of the United States, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy and the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

“I have visited with those who have suffered at the hands of traffickers. The stories they tell are not easy to listen to, but their stories must be heard if we are to stop human trafficking. That is why this documentary is so important,” explained Geoffrey R. Pyatt, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

The IOM Mission in Ukraine, who works on human trafficking prevention, provides protection to victims and assists the Government of Ukraine and civil society to strengthen its counter-trafficking responses, provided crucial support in the production of the documentary.

“According to our research, over 120,000 Ukrainians became victims of human trafficking since 1991. We as IOM are proud to have provided almost 10,000 victims of trafficking with a chance to start their lives anew,” said Manfred Profazi, Chief of Mission, IOM. “But the problem is not decreasing and people continue to suffer. Therefore we appreciate the possibility to work together with MTV EXIT to keep the awareness of young Ukrainians on the dangers of being exploited high, while at the same time explaining them their rights as migrants.”

The documentary “Trading Lives” is part of a series of activities MTV EXIT is holding across Ukraine. The Challenge Slavery competition asked tech-savvy students to submit proposals for a technology solution that could contribute to the fight against human trafficking. The top five ideas were selected for development during a Hackathon in Kyiv from 16-17 November. A panel of judges, which included representatives from Facebook and the developer community, selected Sergey Mokryakov’s “SMS Heartbeat” as the winning concept. The concept relies on simple SMS technology to help track the whereabouts and safety of those going abroad for work by requiring registration for the service through embassies, airports, visa centers and other locations. The service would send periodic SMS messages with a pre-determined password. Failure to respond to the text message would warn authorities in the last location where the user responded to the service. For more information on Challenge Slavery, please visit:

MTV EXIT is also holding a Youth Forum from 18-22 November in Kyiv, to empower young people with the tools and resources they need to hold human trafficking awareness-raising events in their communities.

“Trading Lives” is supported by media partners 5 Channel, Focus magazine and online magazine IVONA bigmir)net.