Victims’ Voices Lead the Way. Kyrgyz Survivors of Human Trafficking Share Their Stories 

Many victims of human trafficking and other forms of violence experience a lack of understanding or stigma in their attempts to get help. After they are rescued or escape, identification interviews and legal proceedings can be traumatic. Some face punishment for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers. Others are blamed for what happened to them and receive inadequate support.

Survivors play a crucial role in understanding what works to prevent trafficking in persons, identifying and rescuing victims, and supporting them on their road to rehabilitation. Learning from victims’ experiences and turning their suggestions into concrete actions leads to a more victim-centred and effective approach in combating this crime.

In Kyrgyzstan, UNODC has this year partnered with the Oasis Foundation. Oasis is a non-governmental organization with branches in various countries around the world, including in Kyrgyzstan. Oasis supports innovative healthcare, housing, and youth development projects with a specific focus on social protection of vulnerable children and women.

Together with Oasis, UNODC implemented a project to strengthen social partnerships between civil society, police, and local authorities to prevent and respond to trafficking in persons among vulnerable youth and children. The initiative increased the capacity of State bodies to identify victims of exploitation and abuse and facilitate their rehabilitation. In parallel, the project supported vulnerable youth and children in orphanages, boarding schools of Chui and Osh regions, young people in conflict with the law, and young people who seek to migrate to other countries for employment purposes.

As nothing can reflect the importance of this initiative more than first-hand experiences, we invite you to read the stories below from survivors of exploitation who received support through the UNODC project with Oasis.


Aidana, age 18

Current legislation requires most children in state orphanages and boarding schools to leave these institutions when they are 15-16 years old. At this critical juncture they are highly vulnerable to exploitation.

Aidana had lived in an orphanage since she was 8. At age 15, she had to leave and manage on her own.  

“My stepfather was a heavy drinker, so living with him and my mom wasn’t an option. I had to find a job and a place to live.”

Aidana started working as a seamstress.

Then, Madina, one of her friends, told Aidana she had to leave the city for a while and asked her if she could leave some of her belongings at her place. Aidana agreed. When Madina returned, she requested Aidana to bring the belongings to her instead of picking them up herself.

“I went to see Madina to drop off her bag. On my way out, Madina asked me to pass a small matchbox-sized package to a person in a car that was parked on my way to the bus stop. I agreed, but as I was walking to the bus stop, a police officer appeared, confiscated the package, and arrested me.”

It turned out Madina manufactured drugs and exploited Aidana to distribute them. All of a sudden, Aidana faced a five-year prison sentence for illicit drug trafficking.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. Police officers interrogated me. The pressure was unbearable. They beat me. At the end, I confessed, just to make it stop.”

After 7 months in detention, Aidana took the advice of a lawyer and admitted her guilt. She was given a sentence of one year on probation.  She was 17 at the time.

Oasis learned about Aidana’s story from her sister. Pro-bono lawyers are currently working to appeal Aidana’s conviction. With support from Oasis, she is applying for new identification documents and picked up her studies.

“When you trust people, you never expected to be deceived. I know how it feels when your rights are violated and how helpless you are without proper legal support. This experience has inspired me to become a lawyer. I want vulnerable youth to know that they have rights and deserve protection”.


Aliya, 22 years-old

“I was sold like cattle for 300 dollars to absolve my parents’ debts”, says Aliya. “I was 17 when my parents took the kalym (dowry) and informed me that I’m getting married to a man who is 20 years older than me”.

Aliya was the second eldest child of a large family and lived with her parents in a village. She had to work around the house and look after the younger children and the family’s livestock. She attended school for the first time at the age of 10.

“I did my homework at school or on the yard. None of my family members supported me. My parents and eldest brother would yell at me and make me feel miserable. When I was 16, they forbade me to study, but I tried to come up with excuses to leave the house and continued attending school. Most of the time, I was scared to return home due to the abuse I experienced at the hands of my father and brother.”

Aliya’s dreams were shattered when she learned her parents finalized the arrangement for her wedding.

“My relatives and parents never asked for my opinion and made the decision for me. I didn’t want to get married. I was tired of the abuse I experienced at home. I mustered all my courage and ran away. My schoolmates helped me and so did my teachers and the school director.”

During the first month, Aliya lived in a crisis centre. Then she moved to a rehabilitation centre for vulnerable youth. When Oasis staff first approached her, she was frightened and confused. She started participating in psychotherapy and received help to find a job and rebuild her life.

Thanks to the free legal assistance provided under the UNODC project, Aliya’s parents returned her identification documents and stopped harassing and threatening her. She successfully completed professional courses and is now applying for college.

“This situation taught me not to be afraid to express my opinion and to take difficult decisions even though I was only 16. I know it is important to ask for help. People will help when they are asked for it. I’m 22 now and I want other girls in similar situations to know that there is help out there and people who care”.


For all inquiries, contact Vasilina Brazhko (Ms.),

Communication and PR Specialist

UNODC Criminal Justice Programme in Central Asia


+996775987817 WhatsApp or Cell phone