Human Trafficking in Denmark
HopeNow’s Experience with Trafficking in Denmark
• Women who are trafficked to Denmark most often end up in prostitution.
• HopeNow has identified a growing number of trafficked men in Denmark.
• There is a growing tendency of trafficked men and women who end up in the cleaning industry and men who are trafficked to sell drugs.
• The majority of men and women, trafficked to Denmark, come from West African countries, Eastern European countries, Thailand and, recently, South America.
• Minors have also been trafficked to Denmark
You can find trafficked people everywhere in Denmark. Notably though, there is a large number of foreign women in brothels, escort services and on the streets of Copenhagen. HopeNow has, furthermore, been in contact with women, who have been locked up and isolated in apartments or houses on the outskirts where they have been coerced into prostituting themselves. Lately, trafficked women have also been found in private apartments in Copenhagen.
The victims of trafficking all have in common that they have been, or still are, coerced by networks of traffickers, to whom they owe money. Usually, their debt is large, as they need to pay for travel expenses, a visa and other fictive debts, which are much higher than the actual cost of traveling to Europe. The structures of the criminal networks, that control human trafficking, are complex and hard to infiltrate as the networks cross over borders and continents.
HopeNow’s observations indicate an explosive increase in the number of foreign women in prostitution in Denmark. This does not mean that all the women have been trafficked, but the majority of the African women have at one point or another been trafficked. Usually, the women are trapped in debt bondage, as they owe their traffickers large sums starting from 60.000 Euros or more. For many trafficked people this means years of working in hard labor or prostitution to pay of the debt, for others this means entrapment within criminal networks for life.
Many of the African women recount their travel to Europe to have taken months or even years. They have walked through deserts in large groups without basic nourishment and lost friends and other women from the group along the way. They also recount the armed guards that drive the women onwards like cattle, threatening them to be beaten or raped and often turning their threats into action. The women also talk about sailing to Europe on very small and overloaded boats risking their lives in stormy and unpredictable weather. On arrival, most often in Spain or Italy, they are forced to prostitute themselves there or get sent to other European countries.
Human trafficking is on the increase in Denmark as it is in the rest of the world; therefore, HopeNow addresses human trafficking from a global perspective. Our focus is on the enactment of the Palermo Protocol and The Council of Europe Convention.