«Alternative» is an international volunteers' movement that was initiated in 2011 by a Russian human rights activist Oleg Melnikov who was motivated by humane desire to help victims of modern slavery to flee this terrible condition and to provide them with means to start a new, free, life.
«Alternative» strives to help those who are forced into involuntary labour, sexual slavery or beggary. It also provides relief to victims of domestic violence.
«Alternative» is the only organisation of its kind, conducting hands-on rescue operations both in Russia and beyond. It helps the survivers of human trafficking to safely return home, or to find refuge elsewhere. If needed, psychological, legal and employment help is also offered by the members of the organization. Quite often activists provide assistance to those compatriots, who due to some kind of unfortunate circumstances, such as loss of identification documents, were forced to stay abroad illegally and had no resources to return home.
«Alternative» regularly informs social Media on rescue operations condacted by our volunteers and also, aiming at prevention through better awareness, compiles news and reviews on the current state of modern slavery in the world.
The Alternativa NGO initially was a social movement comprised of like-minded people, who dedicated their lives to human-rights protection. Our earlier activities encompassed fight against corruption and abuse of authority, environmental protection, and many other areas of human rights violations. Eventually, the activists came across modern slavery as a problem threatening personal security of human beings and undermining the rule of law. It all started with a casual conversation between the leader of the Alternativa, Oleg Melnikov, and his acquaintance, during which the man shared a story of his relative who had fallen into labour slavery at one of the Dagestani brick plants. Melnikov got interested in this case, traveled to Dagestan and faced a terrible situation: hundreds of people in a vulnerable position being exploited there. Not without difficulties and with the help of the media, Oleg managed to rescue the man and two other victims. This case raised public attention, and the law enforcement had to react. As a result, three persons were accused of labour exploitation and brought to justice. From that time, Oleg and his supporters realized how vast the problem was, even at the regional level, so they made a collective decision to fight it in every possible way.
As of 2018, the Alternativa NGO's activists managed to rescue more than 1000 victims of modern slavery and helped more than 2000 people, along with contributing to human trafficking prevention through awareness raising, networking and collaboration with NGO partners and the Media. The Alternativa has grown into a structured organization with permanent staff supported by hundreds of volunteers across Russia and beyond. Regarding the scale of activities, the Alternativa NGO launched volunteers' networking in Harare (Zimbabwe), Juba (South Sudan), Tel-Aviv (Israel), and Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), and intends to broaden this movement in European capitals. Since 2016 we maintain close cooperation with the OSCE, the UN, the IOM and other international bodies. In April 2018 the Alternativa became a member of the International Network Against Trafficking in Persons and Other Forms of Violence uniting NGOs of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Russia. Also, as a member of the Network, we were enrolled in the Alliance against Trafficking in Persons - an unformal platform of major international organizations and NGOs initiated in 2004 by the OSCE. We participate on regular basis in international anti-trafficking events, including the Council of Europe conference dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the CoE Anti-Trafficking Convention.
Thus, the Alternativa NGO has grown from a local volunteer movement consisting of just a few members into an international anti-slavery movement. Our activities are repeatedly covered by the Media (click on the link to read about our work). And all of this has become possible owing to the support received from those having zero tolerance towards modern slavery and our true dedicated supporters!