Human Trafficking/Trafficking in Women
Trafficking in women is a complex problem that manifests itself in a national, European and largely international context. We see trafficking of women as an extreme form of abuse in conjunction with the migration of women.
The migration of women is an overarching term for a multi-layered phenomenon. The women‘s background, and their individual decisions to leave their home countries are generally just as varied as the conditions of migration and the situation when they arrive. We differentiate between trafficking of women and other forms of the migration of women that do not include force, deception, exploitation or violence and precarious living situations that can result from these. Given the global income gap and structural discrimination, women do not always have the ability to truly control their migration.
Women and girls are intrinsically connected to national and international worker migration. They are especially active in agriculture, domestic labour and the entertainment business. While this brings about new employment opportunities for women, it also puts them into illegal or potentially harmful working conditions. These pose health hazards and increase their risk of being economically and sexually exploited as well as discriminated against racially and therefore subject to violations of human rights.
Solidifying the Definition
The KOK prefers the term „trafficking in women“ as opposed to human trafficking, as it considers the specific concerns of women from a legal standpoint to a greater extent than the recent German legislation on general human trafficking.
The KOK sees trafficking in women as the act of recruiting women and taking them to their host country through means of deception, threats of force, and placing them into slave-like conditions that infringes on their human rights. Recruitment does not necessarily have to take place abroad; taking advantage of the vulnerability of women within the target county also falls under the definition of trafficking in women.
Force and deception are key elements and necessary for a complete definition of trafficking. Force can manifest itself in different forms - through physical violence, extortion, retention of documents and money earned robbery, isolation or fraud. Exploitation of a vulnerably condition - for example forced retention abroad, the abuse of authority or debt bondage - is also a form of coercion.
The Commission on the Rights on Women (CEDAW) executed the general recommendation No. 19 of 1992 Article 6 of the CEDAW, next to the traditional forms of trafficking in women such as sex tourism, recruitment for domestic servants and forced marriage, which also blatantly conflict with the rights of women. We work with the resulting definition of trafficking in women. It clearly shows the female-specific aspects and includes the trafficking in women into prostitution and vulnerable situations of forced labour such as domestic labour and forced marriage.
We speak of human trafficking as human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation or labour exploitation to work in agreement with German legislation (§ § 232 and 233 of the Criminal Code).
The Numbers Problem
The data on the extent of affected victims of human trafficking/trafficking in women internationally is extremely incomplete. For Germany, the only public numbers are published by the BKA in a yearly edition of „Bundeslagebild Menschenhandel,“ that only makes an overview of the numbers of the completed investigative proceedings possible. The validity of the criminal statistics, based on the real situation, is therefore rather low, and the „dark area“ extremely high. Like information from the specialist counseling centers shows, cases of human trafficking do not always result in convictions and sentences for the criminals.
The estimations made by different organizations varies heavily, depending on how loose or restricted of a definition the organization uses. Newest estimates by the International Labour Organization (ILO 2012) estimate a total of 18,7 million forced labourers, who work for private companies. Of this number, 4,5 million people (22%) are effected by sexual exploitation and 14,2 million (68%) by forced labour. Over half of the victims are women and girls (55%); 45% are men and boys. UNODC (2009) states that 79% of all identified cases of human trafficking would lead to sexual exploitation. Predictions of the percentage of female victims range from a minimum of 55% to a maximum of 80%. All predictions agree that human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal activity in the world (see for example UNHCR 2010).
Trustworthy statistics are important, especially to steer public awareness of explosive problems. But the greater the problem, the more common it is to see it spread thoughtlessly through the media, press and in academic contexts, which tend to use the highest numbers regardless of the quality of the source. On the other hand, there is always the risk that missing data could lead to relativization of the extent of the problem of human trafficking. If we keep in mind that there are real people in need behind each number, the necessity of addressing the problem not only due to the (constructed) extent of the number of victims, but instead in each individual case becomes apparent.