Record number of victims of human trafficking have been referred to Assistance – several sex trafficking victims in Finland
163 new clients were accepted into the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking last year. 52 of them were estimated to have become victims of exploitation indicative of human trafficking in Finland.
In Finland, 18 out of the victims were victims of human trafficking linked to sexual exploitation; most commonly, they were forced into prostitution. The number is significantly higher than in previous years: in 2017, eight victims of human trafficking linked to sexual exploitation were identified in Finland. The number for the whole of 2016 was four.
Out of the victims of human trafficking in Finland, 20 were estimated to have become victims of human trafficking linked to labour exploitation. Human trafficking linked to labour exploitation was discovered in the fields of restaurant and cleaning services in particular.
These statistics were revealed during the latest review of the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking.
The number of Assistance system clients is higher than ever before
During the year, a total of 228 people were referred to the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking, 163 of whom were accepted into the system as clients (13 proposals were still waiting for a decision on 31 December 2018). For example, in 2015 only 75 people were referred to the Assistance system, 52 out of whom were accepted as clients. This means that the number of people referred to Assistance has more than tripled in three years.
The number of clients in the Assistance system has again risen to the highest it has ever been. All in all, on 31 December 2018 there were 455 people who fell within the scope of the system’s services, including the children in the care of the clients (94). Of the clients, 41 entered the assistance system as minors. A much higher number of the clients had become victims of exploitation indicative of human trafficking as minors, but they only dared to talk about their exploitation after coming of age.
An increasing number of people have sought help by themselves
People in need apply to the Assistance system either by themselves or with help from someone else, usually an official or NGO worker.
The updated ihmiskauppa.fi website has had a positive effect on the chances of potential victims of human trafficking to find help. In 2018, as many as 27 people contacted the Assistance system themselves. This is nearly twice as many as in the previous year (15), and considerably more than in the years 2016 (6) or 2015 (8).
The ihmiskauppa.fi website offers information about human trafficking in different languages as well as several different methods of contacting parties that can offer help. The website also gives advice to those making efforts against human trafficking as well as the general public in how to identify and meet potential victims of human trafficking and refer them to assistance.
Human trafficking is rampant in conflict zones
Out of the new clients, 45% had become victims of human trafficking in conflict zones, especially in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Somalia. The exploitation included sexual slavery, forcing the victim into prostitution, forced labour, forcing minors into marriage in particular, as well as forcing the victims to become child soldiers. Based on statistics, it seems that human trafficking is especially prevalent in conflict zones.
The observation is consistent with the report on human trafficking released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on 7 January 2019. The report states that conflict zones make human trafficking worse.
Facts: What does the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking do?
- Clients in the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking are provided with advice and guidance, social services, healthcare services, a reception allowance or income support, safe accommodation, and interpretation and translation services.
- If a client wants to return to their home country, assistance will be provided for voluntary return.
- Clients also receive legal assistance and legal counselling.
The Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking operates out of the Joutseno Reception Centre, and it has three offices in Finland.