Fin Swe Eng

Examples of human trafficking

Victims of human trafficking are entitled to assistance in Finland even if they originally were subjected to exploitation outside Finland. Below are three examples of the types of exploitation that many foreign nationals who have come to Finland in recent years may have been subjected to.

Forced prostitution of Nigerians in Europe

Nigerian prostitutes can be found everywhere in Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean countries. There, Nigerian women and girls can be seen looking for clients in tourist areas or on the side of main roads leading to cities. For most of the girls and women, prostitution is not a choice. They may have been forced to it by some type of extortion.

PreciousThe victims are often very young or otherwise vulnerable women, such as single mothers. Traffickers lure the victims to Europe with promises of wealth, success and good schools or jobs. Sometimes the women might know that they are going to Europe for sex work but are unaware of the actual working conditions.

Once the women arrive in Europe, the promised job turns out to be prostitution or exploitation in the sex industry. The women agree to borrow money from their trafficker to pay for their trip to Europe and are lead to believe that paying off the debt will be easy in Europe. However, the debt sum is at least 30,000 euros and must be paid off by sex work. The person procuring the women and collecting the profits is usually a woman and known as Madame.

In many cases, the victims are forced to swear an oath that uses juju, the so called dark side of voodoo. The Madame may take some hair, nails and blood of the victim and make them swear that they will pay off their debt and obey Madame, who will start procuring them. If the victim breaks the oath, misfortune, madness, illness and death will follow. These women are often subjected to violence and rape and can be blackmailed by threatening to harm the family members in their home country.

In many cases, the traffickers behind this type of exploitation are unofficial networks of different kinds, families – sometimes even the women’s own parents – or transnational criminal organisations. When it comes to Nigerian criminal organisations, particularly Black Axe and Eiye Confraternity are often involved in forced prostitution.

Slave markets in Libya

Migrants who travel to Europe via Libya are a profitable source of income for many criminal organisations. Traffickers usually target migrants who come from Sub-Saharan Africa and are heading north. These migrants have usually paid money to a people smuggler for the journey.

Migrant groups travelling in Nigeria and Libya are often kidnapped by armed groups. Also the smuggler may sell the group to another smuggler. The migrant group may be detained in unofficial prison camps, and they may need to pay a ransom to get out. Usually, they are told to call their family and relatives and ask them to pay the ransom.

The circumstances and treatment of the victims in these prison camps are degrading, and the captives may be subjected to violence and rape. Many of them become victims of human trafficking. The prisoners may be subjected to forced labour which they cannot refuse. The work is often very demanding, and the victims do not get paid for it.

The women in these camps may be subjected to sexual exploitation, forced prostitution or forced labour as cooks or cleaners, for example, or they may be sold as domestic servants to work under equally inhuman circumstances.

The slavery-like conditions may continue for months or for example a year. When the criminal group considers the ransom to be paid, they release their captives. In some cases, the exploitation may go on for years. Chained and abused slaves may be sold to other abusers at open squares, resembling old slave markets.

Bacha bazi, the dancing boys of Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, one form of human trafficking that targets especially underage boys is the practice of making young boys dress in feminine clothes and forcing them to entertain older men. Men are often using boys as entertainers at parties, making the boys dance for them. The tradition is often linked to sexual abuse. These dancing boys are commonly known as bacha bazi.

In the case of bacha bazi, the abusers are often powerful older men, such as officials or soldiers. This means that it is hard for the victims to get help or protect themselves from their abusers. Another factor that makes it difficult to get help is that the victims are often regarded as homosexuals, which is a crime in Afghanistan. Thus, it can be the victim who gets punished instead of the abuser. The victims of this type of trafficking are also very ashamed of their situation and are often deeply traumatised.