Human Rights Award, 2006
A fluent Russian speaker, women’ s advocate Rita Chaikin was working at the Rape Crisis Center in Kiryat Shmona, Israel, when she was asked to counsel incarcerated Russian women. At first, she was stunned by how many Russian women were behind bars. Soon, she realized these women were not criminals but victims of human trafficking.
Today, through her tireless efforts as the Anti-Trafficking Project Coordinator for Isha L’Isha-Haifa Feminist Center, Ms. Chaikin is helping stem the scourge of trafficking in her country and around the world. Her pioneering programs have helped government and law officials and non-governmental organizations better collaborate in identifying, assisting, and protecting victims; prosecuting traffickers; and, educating the public.
As Ms. Chaikin describes in Vital Voices: Women Changing Our World, “I encountered so many Russian women in Israel who had been deceived and victimized. At that time no one was defending their rights or taking the problem seriously. Now people are beginning to realize that we were dealing with a phenomenon, not merely a collection of isolated cases.”