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Forced criminal activity

Susanna, 24, got into debt with drug dealers. When she could not pay off her debts, the debt in-creased tenfold. Susanna was assaulted and her life was threatened. She was told to sell sex to raise the money she needed, while the profits went to her creditors. Susanna’s abusers also forced her to participate in burglaries and to steal from shops. Again, all profits went to her credi-tors. As a reward, Susanna was given drugs. Susanna’s drug addiction was used to control her. She could not report the abusers to the police. When Susanna got caught for the crimes she had been pressured to commit, she had to take the blame.

The story and the characters are fictitious, but the story is based on one or more real-life cases.

Victims of trafficking should not be punished for crimes they have been forced to commit

One form of human trafficking is coercing a person into committing crimes and benefiting from them. The victim may be coerced into picking pockets, shoplifting, selling drugs, using violence or committing other criminal acts.

Victims who are forced to commit crimes do not benefit from them because someone else collects the profits. Taskuvaras-vai-rikollisuuteen-pakotettu

In accordance with international conventions on combating human trafficking, victims of trafficking must not be punished for crimes they have been coerced into. If the victims are too scared to talk about their experiences and the authorities have no other way to identify them as victims of trafficking, this provision is never put into practice.

Victims of forced criminality are often dependent on their abuser

Victims of forced criminality are often dependent on their abusers and defenceless against them. The story of Susanna, as presented above, is a case in point, as the victim’s drug addiction was used to make her dependent on her abuser.

Nuori-päihteidenkäyttäjä-hyväksikäytettyAnother factor that might make victims dependent on their abuser is family relationships, espe-cially in the case of minors. A child’s guardian, for example, may force the child to steal, and the child has no other option than to obey. In a situation like this, the child may even perceive this behaviour as normal and acceptable.

Victims may be forced to commit crimes also if they owe money to the abuser. By threatening the victims with violence, they can be coerced into committing crimes to pay off drug debts, for example. The debt may have been doubled or tripled as a punishment, which makes it even harder for the victim to pay it off.

The abuser might also threaten the victim’s family and friends to make the victim obey.

Identifying victims of forced criminal activity is challenging

Identifying a victim of forced criminality is especially challenging, because the goal of criminals is to keep their activities secret. Seeking help is difficult for the victims, because their crimes will be revealed.

Because of the risk of getting caught, victims of trafficking for forced criminality can often be blackmailed in order to keep them under the control of the abuser. The risk of getting caught makes it harder for the victim to contact the authorities and seek help.

Victims of forced criminality and their families and friends are often threatened with violence. This means that even though the principal offender gets caught, the victims and their families are still in danger because of a possible revenge.