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Eyes on Eastern Europe: Martynka

A series on UUSC’s partners in Eastern Europe.

By on June 22, 2023

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, more than 62,000 people have died, nearly 60,000 have been injured, and roughly 14 million have been displaced. UUSC immediately mobilized its resources in support of those who were impacted by the invasion, culminating in 10 partnerships with organizations in Eastern Europe. All of these organizations are committed to helping communities facing compounding forms of oppression during this conflict—meaning we focus our resources on communities who are already facing severe oppression even before the invasion (people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc.). This series will highlight those partners and the work they do.

War exacerbates societal ills that already exist. One of those ills is sex trafficking. Since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, people vulnerable to trafficking are even more susceptible to this and other forms of predatory violence. So far, seven million people—mostly women and children—have fled into Poland. 

Martynka was founded in Krakow, Poland to address this very issue. The destabilization of war and evacuation increases the risk of trafficking and other forms of sexual violence. Being in a place without money, connections, or knowledge of the language only makes evacuees even more vulnerable. That is coupled with the fact that abortions and other aspects of reproductive care are illegal in Poland, further complicating the care these people need.

Since March 2022, this female-led organization has worked to stop human trafficking and to provide victims of sexualized violence legal, psychological, and medical support. The organization also provides education about reproductive health. Martynka has also addressed new issues that concern women’s safety and security. This has included shelter safety, translation assistance, and longer-term psychological support. 

Evacuees can end up in areas across Poland. This can make it very hard for them to navigate the terrain let alone access services. To address this, Martynka works in remote areas of the country with transport, medical facilities, and education. The Polish-Ukrainian border is also a frequent site of activity. The organization sends a team to deliver humanitarian aid and dispense information about its services. 

UUSC funding supports Martynka’s core operational functions that undergird all the services they provide evacuees. In addition to continuing and strengthening its current programs, Martynka looks to introduce new ones. Here are a few aspirations that UUSC funding is making possible:

  • A 24/7 crisis hotline;
  • Consultations for victims of fraud and sexualized violence;
  • Free access to reproductive care; and
  • Further aid in the translation and navigation of Polish systems and institutions;

Martynka continues to make a difference in the lives of women and others who are dealing with the cruel realities of war and sexual violence. UUSC funding is helping the organization to make a profound difference.

Image Credit: Martynka

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