A seminar, Trade in Women in the Baltic States: Problems and Search for Effective Measures, held in Vilnius on Oct. 11, brought together international experts to share information and experience on how to discourage the illegal smuggling of women.
Audra Sipaviciene, head of the organization's Vilnius office, told BNS that the nine-month-long campaign would kick off by the end of 2001. Radio, television and the press will all be used to broadcast the dangers that smuggling and prostitution pose.
The campaign also plans to foster cooperation and information exchange between the government and public service organizations to help combat the illegal trafficking in women.
Out of all the victims of human smuggling registered in Germany in 2000, 14 percent were Lithuanian citizens. Lithuania ranked fourth in the number of its citizens smuggled into Germany, following Russia, Ukraine and Poland.
The Interior Ministry said that the number of missing persons has been rising steadily since 1989, increasing from 600 people in 1989 to almost 1,500 in 2000.
Sipaviciene said identifying a single factor that fosters prostitution is difficult, but she added that a poor economic situation and high unemployment rate contribute to the problem.
"Our research has shown that a person goes to the streets when they have absolutely no resources left to subsist on."
It is often difficult to determine the exact number of women taken abroad, because very few victims apply for health care.
A poll conducted by the public opinion and market research company Vilmorus shows that 75 percent of respondents think unemployment is the main cause of young women going abroad to work as prostitutes. Another 53 percent of those polled said they thought women are taken out of the country by fraud as well.
According to Sipaviciene, the main routes of transport for sexual slavery have shifted from Turkey, Israel, Greece and the United Arab Emirates to Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France and Sweden. She also noted a sharp increase in the number of women going to Spain.