Fin Swe Eng

Human trafficking related to sexual exploitation

Every night, Precious had to earn at least 100 euros. It was difficult, because she could not get more than 20 euros per client. Sometimes the weather was so bad that there just were not enough sex buyers. On nights like that, Precious had to tell her procurer that she had not been able to raise the required sum. When her procurer found out, he would sometimes hit Precious with a belt. The procurer reminded Precious that she still owed him 30,000 euros.

PreciousPrecious had run into debt when she was brought from Nigeria to Europe. Nobody had mentioned anything about prostitution. She had been promised a job as a hair dresser in Europe, but that promise had not made any difference. Precious was also afraid to break of the voodoo oath that her procurer had made her swear. According to the oath, Precious had to obey her procurer and pay her debt. If she failed to do this, she would either die or go crazy.


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

Human trafficking related to sexual exploitation as a phenomenon

Sexual exploitation means that a person is coerced into prostitution, exploited in the sex industry or subjected to other forms of sexual abuse, such as sexual slavery. The abuser’s motive is usually financial, although this is not necessarily always the case.

Most victims of trafficking related sexual exploitation are women and girls, but it is important to remember that even men and especially boys may become victims of this form of human trafficking.

Victims’ vulnerability is exploited

In trafficking related to sexual exlpoitation, the abuser takes advantage of the victim’s vulnerable position in order to subject him or her to sexual abuse. Factors the abuser may take advantage of include poverty, disability, young age and substance abuse.

MV-naisen-jalatAnother common way of subjecting victims of sexual exploitation to abuse is to mislead them: the victims might be promised a good job abroad which later turns out to be prostitution. When the victims discover the true nature of the job, they may be told that they owe the abuser a large sum of money for the travel arrangements and that they must do sex work to pay off the debt. Victims may also be forced to pay the abuser rent, fines or other settlements. The abuser may also threaten the victim or the victim’s family or friends.

Victims may be controlled in a subtle but effective way

In some cases, the victim may have voluntarily agreed to do sex work, but the working conditions prove to be worse than expected and the victim is not allowed to quit. It is important to understand that even persons who initially agreed to prostitute themselves of their own free will may be victims of human trafficking. Such situations become human trafficking if the victim cannot refuse to do sex work or leave the situation without facing serious consequences.

There is a lot of variation in the conditions under which sex trafficking occurs. Victims may be restricted physically, such as by keeping them in enclosed spaces or by restricting their freedom to go out. In many cases, victims are allowed to move freely but are controlled in more subtle ways. Such ways of controlling include debt bondage, threatening the victims and their families or friends, abuse of religious beliefs (such as voodoo), seizure of travel documents and blackmail. Another factor that makes controlling the victims easier is that they often are dependent on their abusers, in one way or another.

Sexual exploitation related to trafficking is not identified well enough in Finland

Sexual exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking in the world. Despite this, the Finnish authorities have managed to identify relatively few sex trafficking cases. nainen-lumessaMost of the victims identified in Finland have fallen victim to human trafficking before they came to Finland. This does not mean, however, that sexual exploitation does not occur in Finland. Rather, we lack the ability to identify the victims.

Many factors can make identifying a victim of human trafficking more difficult. One of them is that the person may at first encounter appear to be doing sex work voluntarily. Victims may also be unaware of their rights or of the help that is available for them. In addition, the victims may be scared and traumatised or feel that no help can get them out of the situation.  The victims might also fear that they will get in trouble with the authorities if they seek help.