New survey indicates sharp rise in public awareness of human trafficking

Since February 2008, the Human Security Policy Studies Centre HSPSC,NGO, has been implementing the‘Project to Combat Human Trafficking in Mongolia’ under a grant from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). One of the main objectives of the project has been to raise public awareness to help prevent and protect citizens from being victimized, as well as to help focus the attention and resources needed to tackle this crime.
In order to measure the effectiveness of the project’s public awareness-raising and prevention campaign, HSPSC contracted the Sant Maral Foundation to conduct an independent survey titled, ‘Public Perception of Human Trafficking in Mongolia’. Households were randomly sampled across 5 regions based on population density: 497 respondents from Ulaanbaatar, 210 from Khuvsgul, 160 from Umnugovi, 152 from Uvs and 81 from Dornod. 
1000 adult residents from 18 years of age and up responded to 15 questions, i.e. basic awareness of trafficking, how and when they became informed, types of trafficking, age range of the victims, knowledge of prevention efforts and overall opinions and attitudes about efforts to combat trafficking. The format of the survey makes it difficult to conduct indepth impact analysis. Nevertheless, it provides enough tools to analyse what major factors form public attitudes. The statistical information presented represents respondents nationwide, unless otherwise noted.
The results of this survey indicate a 64% increase in public awareness of human trafficking in Mongolia within
the last 3-4 years, whereas 91% of the survey respondents are currently aware of trafficking compared to 35% who were aware of trafficking more than 4-5 years ago. The media is, undoubtedly, the strongest factor
forming public opinion. 74% of respondents noted TV/radio as the main source of information on trafficking while 11% cited newspapers. Word of mouth accounts for 8% and personal experience just over 1%. 4.7% of respondents (7.6% in Ulaanbaatar compared to 2.8% in rural areas) reported knowing someone close, either a friend or a relative, who had been a victim of human trafficking. 89% mentioned trafficking as a serious problem. Distribution of trafficking categories shows that sexual exploitation, i.e. forced prostitution, and fraudulent marriage are considered to be the most common types of trafficking. Forced labour and blood and organ harvesting is also a matter of concern. Age groups of 20-24 (49%) and 15-19 (31%) are considered to be the most vulnerable to trafficking. The following results are based on the population’s perception and knowledge of the trafficking problem. The survey showed that 82% of the population considers that existing legislation on trafficking is ineffective.
There is also more negativism about Mongolian Government institutions that deal with trafficking: 36% think that they are effective against 54% who think that they are not. NGOs faired slightly better: 35% believe they are effective against 47% who think they are ineffective. 38% of respondents think the judiciary should lead the fight against trafficking compared to just 4.3% who think civil society should take the lead. The assessment of the current efforts to improve the situation in trafficking is very low. 76% gave negative assesments while only 9% were positive. In combating trafficking, the population supports “higher penalties for those involved”, while improving legislation takes 2nd position: 26% support higher penalties, while 23% want better legislation. 
Training the public on preventive measures against trafficking received support of 17% of respondents. More
effective dissemination of information on trafficking will help according to 14% of respondents. 46% of respondents said that they know “little” or “nothing” about preventive measures. Mass media is the dominant
source for learning preventive measures for 81% of respondents. These figures show that the quality and reliability of media information have serious impact on public attitudes. Although public perception has  dramatically increased over recent years as illustrated in the survey, vulnerable groups will continue to be victimized by this crime as long as their opportunities remain limited. While the report indicated an overall higher knowledge of trafficking and rate of occurance in Ulaanbaatar, the situation in rural areas may be complicated by higher unemployent, higher risk in the border provinces and a lack of assistance and information to protect vulnerable persons. 18.4% of rural dwellers have heard about trafficking within the last year compared to 7.6% of respondents in Ulaanbaatar. This may indicate that the worsening trafficking situation started in Ulaanbaatar and is now speading to rural Mongolia, whereas the full negative impact has yet to be seen. It is therefore imperative to consider rural Mongolia in future efforts to combat human trafficking. 

For immediate assistance and information regarding human trafficking, please call the MGEC Trafficking Hotline: 1903.  For more information about the ‘Project to Combat Human Trafficking in Mongolia’, please contact the Human Security Policy Studies Centre HSPSC, NGO: 70110216, email:  To view the full Sant Maral Report, please visit our website:



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