As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Mongolia, and they exploit victims from Mongolia abroad. Traffickers may also use Mongolia as a transit point to exploit foreign individuals in sex trafficking and forced labor in Russia and the PRC. Most sex trafficking of Mongolian victims from rural and poor economic areas occurs in Ulaanbaatar, provincial centers, and border areas. A 2018 civil society survey found domestic violence drives the vast majority of Mongolian trafficking victims to seek and accept unsafe employment opportunities on which traffickers prey; this vulnerability has reportedly increased as a result of state-ordered residential quarantines amid the pandemic. During periods of pandemic- related business closures, clandestine sex trafficking in private residences is reportedly increasing, including through the use of blackmail on social media as a coercive method. Traffickers exploit women and girls in sex trafficking in Mongolian massage parlors, illegal brothels, hotels, bars, and karaoke clubs, as well as in outdoor urban areas, sometimes through the permissive facilitation of local police. Traffickers often utilize online platforms to lure, groom, or blackmail Mongolian children into domestic sex trafficking. LGBTQI+ individuals are vulnerable to trafficking amid widespread discrimination that often jeopardizes their employment status and complicates their access to justice. Transgender women in particular are at higher risk of sex trafficking due to pervasive social stigma barring them from employment in the formal sector. Mongolian communities experiencing widespread unemployment due to the pandemic—especially women and informal sector workers—are more vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor. Tourists from Japan and South Korea reportedly engaged in child sex tourism in Mongolia in prior years; some civil society groups believe this practice persists.
The ongoing development of the mining industry in southern Mongolia continues to drive growing internal and international migration, intensifying trafficking vulnerabilities—especially along the PRC- Mongolia border. Truck drivers transporting coal across the PRC border in Omnogovi Province are often more vulnerable to labor traffickers due to an arrangement under which employers confiscate their passports as collateral for their vehicles. These drivers often wait in truck lines with minimal sleep, heating, or access to basic needs for weeks or months at a time until they receive permission to cross and make deliveries in the PRC, where PRC national employers and customers impose wage deductions for the delays; this loss of income reportedly makes them further vulnerable to labor exploitation. The families of coal transporters who are delayed at the border, who are injured, or who die as a result of the poor working conditions may also be vulnerable to sex trafficking due to ensuing economic hardships. Traffickers exploit women and girls in sex trafficking in these border crossing truck lines, along the coal transport roads connecting mining sites to the PRC border, at nightlife establishments in mining towns, and at entertainment sites across the border in Inner Mongolia. Mining workers sometimes leave their children at home alone while on extended shift rotations, during which time the children are at elevated risk of sex trafficking. Sex trafficking and child forced labor also occur in connection with artisanal mining. Some men in predominantly ethnic Kazakh regions of western Mongolia subject local women and girls to abduction and forced marriage as part of a cultural practice known as Ala kachuu, or “grab and run”; some of these forced marriages may feature corollary sex trafficking or forced labor elements. Traffickers force some children to beg, steal, or work in other informal sectors of the Mongolian economy, such as horseracing, herding and animal husbandry, scavenging in garbage dumpsites, and construction. Some Mongolian families are complicit in exploiting children in sex trafficking and forced labor.
Traffickers exploit Mongolian men, women, and children in forced labor in the PRC, Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Norway, Sweden, South Korea, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates and in sex trafficking in Belgium, Cambodia, the PRC, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States. Officials believe Turkey may be rising in prevalence as a destination country due to visa-free travel regimes, the availability of direct flights, and shifts in migration trends following the pandemic-related closure of the PRC border. Traffickers sometimes use drugs, fraudulent social networking, online job opportunities, or English language programs to lure Mongolian victims into sex trafficking abroad. Traffickers have forced Mongolian girls to work as contortionists—often under contractual agreements signed by their parents—primarily in Mongolia and Turkey and to a lesser extent in Hong Kong and Singapore. Mongolian boys are at high risk of forced labor and sex trafficking under visa regimes that enable them to work indefinitely as horse jockeys and circus performers across the PRC border, provided they return with a chaperone once a month; this frequent facilitated transit also makes them more vulnerable to trafficking. Traffickers compel women and girls to work in domestic service and engage in commercial sex acts after entering into commercially brokered marriages with men from the PRC and, to a lesser extent, South Korea. Mongolians stranded abroad as a result of pandemic-related travel restrictions may have been at elevated risk of sex trafficking and forced labor due to immigration statuses that prevent them from seeking employment in host countries’ formal sector economies. PRC-based companies hire Mongolian men and boys to work at agricultural operations for compensation far below minimum wage and under ambiguous immigration status, placing them at high risk of trafficking. Some micro-lending institutions in the PRC reportedly retain Mongolians’ passports as a form of collateral, leaving them vulnerable to immigration status-related coercion.
PRC national workers employed in Mongolia are vulnerable to trafficking as contract laborers in construction, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, wholesale and retail trade, automobile maintenance, and mining. Some of them experience contract switching when they enter the country, making them especially vulnerable to coercion due to ensuing immigration violations. Some Russian and Ukrainian women entering Mongolia through PRC border crossings for short periods under visa-free regimes may be sex trafficking victims. Observers report corruption among some Mongolian officials facilitates sex trafficking in illicit establishments and impedes the government’s anti-trafficking efforts.