This United States Grand Priory is dedicated to stopping child sex trafficking in the Balkans. To that end, we’ve chosen to support a charity located in Belgrade, Serbia, called Astra.  From their website: “ASTRA is a non-governmental organization dedicated to eradication of all forms of trafficking in human beings, especially in women and children, through a comprehensive approach to the problem, with the aim of eliminating this specific type of violence and affirming a society free of exploitation, violence, discrimination, economic and social inequalities. Click here for the Astra site: http://www.astra.org.rs/eng/

Over half a million people, mainly women and children, fall victim to trafficking every year. This problem particularly hits the Balkans, owing to the militarization of the region in the previous decade, its geographical position, and the difficult economic situation.  Today, the Republic of Serbia is a country of destination, transit and origin of the trafficked victims. ASTRA is a Belgrade based local grass-root anti-trafficking organization established in 2000 as the first actor to raise the issue of human trafficking in Serbia.

The Problem of Human Trafficking Today Called the modern day slavery, human trafficking has many forms. Labor trafficking, bonded labor, sex trafficking, child sex tourism, forced child labor and child soldiering are among the more vicious. People can become trapped in these situations through force, or drawn in through fraud or coercion by traffickers that prey on their desperation and trust. Immigrants, domestic workers and children are especially at risk. Beyond the human rights impacts of trafficking, there can be serious health impacts including physical and psychological abuse, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Sex trafficking plays a large part in spreading the AIDS epidemic worldwide. Unfortunately, ending these practices is not a simple matter. There continues to be a large supply of victims, especially in developing countries where poverty makes people vulnerable to fraudulent promises of employment or a better life elsewhere. Demand also remains high in more prosperous countries, making the practice even more difficult to eradicate.

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