HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS A GLOBAL INDUSTRY THAT RESULTS IN DIFFERENT FORMS OF EXPLOITATION WITHIN AND ACROSS COUNTRIES
As a result of the complex and fluid nature of the trafficking industry, there are no reliable statistics on the actual number of vulnerable MEN, WOMEN and CHILDREN that are victims of human trafficking. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that over 75 percent of a total of approximately 21 million people are trafficked for the purpose of forced labour and 22 per cent for sex work. Sexual exploitation generates more than double the amount of profits for traffickers than forced labour. Read more from the ILO here.
The types of exploitation that the people HopeNow encounters in Denmark are faced with include sexual exploitation (which is the most prevalent), forced marriage, forced labour, domestic servitude and forced crime. We have occasional encounters in the area of organ harvesting, and no direct hands-on experience with benefit fraud or child soldiers. As a result of the power dynamics between the victims and the perpetrators, trafficked individuals are very often exploited in several different ways over time. See Human Perspectives.
Not all vicitms of trafficking are taken across national borders, but in the vast majority of the European countries people are trafficked from abroad.
The Danish Police Force has declared that the trafficking of women to Denmark has been on the rise since 2002. They estimate that approximately 2,500 foreign women work in the Danish sex industry. All of the vulnerable and marginalised people that HopeNow encounters are of non-Danish origin and the majority are of West African decent.
Within the field of human trafficking three categories of country are defined:
- SENDING COUNTRIES are the countries of origin of the trafficked person (e.g. Thailand, Nigeria, Columbia)
- TRANSIT COUNTRIES are the countries that the trafficked persons travel through, or that they stay in for an interim period before moving on to a ‘final’ destination (e.g. Spain, Italy, Greece).
- RECEIVING COUNTRIES are the countries that the traffickers plan to be the ‘final’ destination for their victims (e.g. Denmark, UK, Netherlands). Transit countries can also play the role of being receiving countries as well.
As an NGO situated in Denmark, a receiving country that is both wealthy and also distributes its wealth more evenly than the vast majority of countries in the world, HopeNow consider the transnational dimensions of human trafficking greatly in our everyday work, by speaking to possible and identified victims about their lives, by collaborating with NGOs, GOs and other relevant actors in sending and transit countries, and by educating ourselves independently. In other words, we use our own agency as well as taking a multi-agency and multi-agent approach in our work. Read more here. We believe that in order to understand an individual’s present, we must get a good grasp of their past and be able to relate to them whole fellow human beings rather than as victims from a foreign country.
A FURTHER ASPECT OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING THAT IS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO GRASP IS UNDERSTANDING THE CYCLE OF ‘FICTITIOUS’ DEBT.
The main goal of a trafficker is to make money by exploiting the person they are trafficking in various ways. Many of the men and women we work with believe, whether it is the reality of their situation or not, that they have no choice but to do the work that a trafficker is coercing them to do because of the massive, mostly fictitious, debt they have accrued since leaving their home country.
For some, a strong push-factor for leaving home in the first place is debt that the individual or their family have in the sending country. As soon as they leave their homes, the debts increase exponentially during transit and in the destination country as fictitious amounts are added to the ‘bill’ for each and every service or transaction that is made for or on behalf of the trafficked person. Individuals are then saddled with a debt to their traffickers that takes years to pay off, and it is often the case that the family of the trafficked person is at risk of being harmed by the gangs in the trafficking networks if the debt is not paid.