Human Trafficking in General

Human Trafficking in General and Legal Approaches

Why does human trafficking exist?

Human trafficking is a complex phenomenon, which must be viewed alongside globalisation processes that have made it easier for criminal networks to operate across boarders.

Many believe that human trafficking only occurs into prostitution, as foreign women working in prostitution are visible on the streets and also because it has been the focus of the media. However, human trafficking includes coercion and exploitation of all men, women and children that are vulnerable to being trafficked. Forced labour in factories, agriculture and in private homes is a widespread phenomenon. The UN describes human trafficking as the fastest growing trade within organized crime.

The difference between human trafficking into the sex industry – forced prostitution, and “normal” prostitution is that there are traffickers behind the forced prostitution. The women who have been trafficked are paying a large fictive debt to the traffickers and are being forced to prostitute themselves to the extent and the nature they never imagined. The women are forced to have sex with every client that wants them and in any way that he wants – 10 to 15 clients a day is not unusual.

The Danish Police estimate that the amount of women trafficked into Denmark has increased since 2002. Their estimate is that around 2.500 foreign women are currently working in the Danish sex industry. The largest percentage of the women comes from Asia, East- and Central Europe and Africa.

The Extent of Human Trafficking

The UN estimates that around 2,5 million people in the world are victims of trafficking. The exact number is unknown as Human Trafficking largely occurs underground and very few victims are willing to step forward. Moreover, the national and international dimension of human trafficking makes it very hard to gather accurate data.

The Danish Criminal Law

Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, transport or transfer of a person, to withhold a person or to exploit a person by using force, deception or threat. Furthermore, it is irrelevant if the trafficked person has given consent to the exploitation if any of these elements have been in force.

Above is The UN’s short version of the definition of human trafficking and it is to be found in The Palermo Protocol from 2000. You can read the Palermo Protocol here. The Protocol is a supplement to The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

Denmark has signed on to The Palermo Convention and, on the basis of The UN’s definition of human trafficking, The Danish Parliament introduced criminal code § 262a in 2002. The code emphasizes that human trafficking is punishable with up to 10 years imprisonment. Traffickers that have been convicted in Denmark have so far had up to three years and a few months sentences.

Criminal code § 262 a. states: Trafficking humans is punishable with up to 10 years imprisonment for whoever recruits, transports, transfers, houses or subsequently takes in a person who experiences or has experienced:

  •   Illegal coercion according to §260
  •   Loss of liberty according to §261
  •   Threat according to §266
  •   Unlawful processing, reinforcement or exploitation of misconception or
  •   Other improper practice with the intention of exploitation of the person in question by immoral sexual actions, forced labor, slavery or similar acts of slavery.

For the purpose of exploitation of the individual by sexual indecency, forced labour, slavery or slavery like conditions, criminal acts or removal of organs.

Subsection 2: Accordingly, it is punishable for those, who with the purpose of exploiting an individual by sexual indecency, forced labour, slavery or slavery like conditions, criminal acts or removal of organs:

a)  to recruit, transport, transfer, house or subsequently takes in a person under 18 years of age or

b)  providing payment or other benefits for obtaining consent for the exploitation from a person with custody rights over the victim.

The Government Action Plan

In the last few years, The Danish Government has implemented special action plans to fight human trafficking in Denmark. They are designed to direct the diverse initiatives that fight human trafficking and also how trafficked men and women can be helped. You can read the most recent action plan here.

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