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Meet Elena Timofeeva, Program Manager, FAIRGirls Russia, and a featured blogger for our participation in the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women.

FAIRGirls is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to prevent human trafficking in the lives of youth worldwide. At FAIRGirls Russia we provide services for victims of trafficking and engage in preventive work with at-risk groups to help them avoid becoming vulnerable to human trafficking. Two of the largest at-risk groups in Russia are youth in the orphanage system and adults who left the orphanage system when they turned 18. According to the Human Rights Watch report, one in three girls become sexually exploited within a year after leaving orphanage care and one in three boys become involved in criminal activities.

We work with schools, state orphanages, shelters, and community agencies to fight this statistic. After years of practical work we have adapted training materials that include video, debate, drawing, and music which allows us to form connections with members of at-risk groups and to educate them on how to avoid trafficking, how to identify healthy and unhealthy relationships, and how to reframe stigmas and cultural icons that objectify women.

Unfortunately, we face many challenges. To date, Russia has no national plan of action or federal law to rehabilitate victims and ensure their safety. The legislation that does exists is lacking, and many traffickers escape punishment and conviction for their crimes. The victim protection law that we do have is completely ineffective, leaving Russia in a situation in which trafficking victims are not being protected, have no access to rehabilitation, and are unable to bring their traffickers to justice.

Recent research shows that while Russians do know about the problem of human trafficking, their knowledge is very shallow, and the topic remains relatively taboo. To address this issue we implemented the Tell Your Friends project, which allows people to share information and creates a line through which information about human trafficking is spread. Teen girls receive a mobile and print resource guide that connects them to FAIRGirls and other community resources that they can use to help themselves or a friend in need. Through the Tell Your Friends project we can identify victims of exploitation and abuse and link them with the services they need. When teen girls report to us that they or someone they know has been exploited or abused, we collaborate with law enforcement and community based organizations to ensure each girl receives services and protection. Every young victim is supported and linked to counselling, housing, financial, material, and legal aid, and culturally appropriate resources. We aim to build the leadership of young women in the anti-trafficking movement in Russia by providing them with resources to protect themselves and their peers.

Spread the word about the Tell Your Friends project, and check out our website created especially for teen girls!

Get involved by learning more about different ways to be a volunteer here.