Human trafficking is a contemporary form of slavery.
"I've been held down like a piece of meat while monsters disguised as men
violated me again & again."
200 years ago, the transatlantic slave trade was abolished, but today millions of people are enslaved in global human trafficking. Human trafficking involves situations where several people work together, usually in different countries, to recruit and then induce a victim to travel from one place to another and be exploited, often in prostitution.
Human trafficking for sexual purposes is driven by demand: the demand to buy another person's body and do whatever you want with it is at the root of this horrific reality. Human trafficking is the most profitable form of organized crime, next to weapons and drugs.
For an act to be considered as trafficking in human beings, it must consist of three elements: an action, (e.g. recruitment or transportation), carried out through the use of an improper means, (e.g. threats, deception or taking advantage of someone's vulnerability) for a specific purpose of exploitation, e.g. sexual. It is worth noting that only a purpose of exploitation is required and not that the exploitation has actually taken place; if the victim is under 18 years of age, the offender is convicted of trafficking in human beings even if he or she did not use improper means to carry out the crime.
Consent does not matter precisely because the crime involves the use of 'improper means' by the offender. This means that it is trafficking in human beings, even if the victim knew about the prostitution, but not the actual conditions. It is a chain crime (recruiting-transporting-hosting, etc.), but not all the steps are necessary and there is no requirement to do it in a certain order. Moreover, different people may be responsible for different stages of this crime. For obvious reasons, it is difficult to keep statistics on the number of victims in Sweden. The last time the National Crime Agency made an estimate, it was assumed that between 400-600 girls/women were transported here for prostitution every year (2003). Since then, no estimate has been made. As soon as resources are increased, more cases are found .
According to theUN Refugee Agency, between 700,000 and up to four million children, women and men fall victim to human trafficking every year. Eurostat noted in its 2013 report that the majority of identified victims of human trafficking in the EU in the years 2008-2012 were exploited for sexual purposes (62%). Furthermore, in its 2010 report on organized crime, UNODC reports that over 140,000 victims of human trafficking for sexual purposes are exploited every day in Europe.[7, 8] Poverty, unemployment, lack of education and the glorification of the West are risk factors for trafficking, but demand is the driving force. The buyers want new and younger girls all the time. In one Swedish case, the men were given customer numbers and informed by text message or email when new women arrived.
Another obvious reason for the existence of human trafficking is that it is simply a profitable business that offers relatively high profits at relatively low risk. It is easier to transport people across the border undetected than drugs and weapons. Women and children can also be resold several times to increase profits. Some women are lured here by men who promise marriage, money and a future in Sweden. Others are recruited by an acquaintance or read an advertisement in the newspaper for a job as a nanny or waitress. Some are caught in strip clubs and brothels, others are sold into prostitution by their father or mother. Almost always, the woman is said to owe a debt to the traffickers - a debt she will never be free of.
So it was for Michelle. She allegedly owed €50 000 to the 'madam' who arranged and paid for her trip to Europe. But it was her father who had made a deal with the criminal network for his daughter to go. He was present when Michelle underwent a ritual involving the blood of sacrificed animals before being sent away, in the belief that she would work as a nanny. Once in Italy, Michelle was locked in an apartment and forced to have sex with different men several times a day. She tried to escape many times. As punishment, she was raped. The debt she owed to her traffickers never diminished. But every time she misbehaved, the debt grew bigger. Until the day the police raided the perpetrators. Michelle allegedly ran away from her 'madam' and as punishment, her father was murdered by the network. Michelle eventually fled from Italy to Sweden and after a few months was picked up off the street by outreach workers from a church. She was brought to Talita and for a couple of years we met her twice a week for therapy, education and future planning. She now has a permanent residence permit in Sweden, a permanent job, her own home and a wonderful family.
The internet is the largest marketplace for all sales of sexual services. There are numerous websites with pictures of girls and women online and detailed information on what 'services they can offer' and the price of each 'service'. Internet advertisements also allow buyers to contact booking centres abroad and order a girl or woman. Even before arriving in the destination country, the perpetrators build up an increasing level of control over their victims. This is done through abuse, threats, rape, etc. Once here, control can be maintained partly through an external prison, such as confinement, threats and rape, and partly through an internal, invisible prison, such as a dependency relationship, lack of knowledge of laws and practices in the destination country or threats to family in the home country.
Human traffickingcan have severe consequences for the victim. Isolation, threats, humiliation, mental abuse, manipulation, violence, sexual abuse, torture and forced drug use cause both physical and psychological damage and, in the worst cases, can lead to death. In addition, victims who are allowed to return home risk being ostracized as they are considered immoral and bring shame to the family and society. There is then a high risk that they will again end up in an exploitative situation .
 Human trafficking and prostitution from a Swedish perspective, p 26 and 29
 Police Progress Report 15 Human trafficking for sexual and other purposes, p 7
 Human trafficking and prostitution from a Swedish perspective, p 13
 Human trafficking and prostitution from a Swedish perspective, p 12
 Human trafficking and prostitution from a Swedish perspective, p 14 and Police Progress Report 15; Human trafficking for
sexual and other purposes, p 15
 Human trafficking and prostitution from a Swedish perspective, p 14
 Polisens lägesrapport 15 Människohandel för sexuella och andra ändamål, p 13
 The Globalisation of Crime - A Transnational Organised Crime Threat Assessment, p 43
 Human trafficking and prostitution from a Swedish perspective, p 30
 Human trafficking and prostitution from a Swedish perspective, p 33 and 37
 Human trafficking and prostitution from a Swedish perspective, p 30
 Human trafficking and prostitution from a Swedish perspective, p 18
 Human trafficking and prostitution from a Swedish perspective, p 23
 Human trafficking and prostitution from a Swedish perspective, p 20
 Human trafficking and prostitution from a Swedish perspective, p 29