Trafficking into Labour
We make a distinction between trafficking in women and the various forms of migration which do not take place under force, through deceit or as forms of violence or exploitation. Nonetheless these forms of migration can also often put women into precarious situations. Women and young girls are more and more involved in a wave of international migration in search of employment. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) women make up half of a hundred million migrants world wide in search of employment.
As well as agriculture, domestic employment is also an informal sector where more and more women from Africa, Asia and Latin America find work as maids, au-pairs, cleaning ladies, house help and nurses. Such employment is even offered by the families of ambassadors in Germany. Since the possibilities of legal employment in Germany are very limited for such women (see German Law), employment in the domestic sector being deemed socially inferior and badly paid is one of the few possibilities that presents itself to these women. Very often the working conditions are virtually feudal in manner. Payment is often not in monetary terms but takes the form of free food and board. If the domestic help also lives with the employers, then they are at their beck and call around the clock.. There is nothing in this situation to limit the employer in his or her actions. There is the illegal status, the lack of labour rights and the easy dispensability of such employees to consider. All these elements create a situation in which payment and safety of individuals is not guaranteed. Very many women who have been trafficked into such labour, work under conditions similar to slavery. The danger of harassment or sexual violence is very high. Such occurrences happen mostly within the private home everywhere in the world. It is very difficult to stand up for one’s rights in this situation. The victim is under a legal obligation to prove that an offence has occurred. Not only are these women illegally in the country, but the fact that they are working illegally makes them liable to prosecution also. If they take their case to the authorities, in the end they risk being deported.
More and more women are working in this informal sector. They have no legal right to residence and are thus unprotected by the law. Some of them have no other choice but to work hours on end in various households, quick food joints etc. The increased pressure of constantly going from one workplace to another goes hand in hand with being trapped in various sorts of dependencies. The money earned is minimal and the working hours are very long. Due to their illegal situation and their being singled out and isolated, it is very hard for such women to stand up for their rights.
Work as a prostitute is also a common form of employment for women who have migrated in search of employment. Estimates suggest that there are 400.000 women working as prostitutes in Germany and that 60% of these are migrants. As of 2002, prostitution in Germany is no longer illegal. This issue has been settled under the ProstG (German law pertaining to prostitution). However it is exactly in this sector that we find worldwide human trafficking rings. These organisations, amongst other things, lure women who are willing to migrate and either exploit their labour or force them into prostitution. Since up to recently only the act of leading somebody into prostitution or forcing somebody into prostitution had been open to prosecution (sections 180b, 181 German Penal Code (StGB old version), and in view of the fact that NGO’S have been fighting for years on behalf of the victims, the trafficking in women into prostitution is dealt with separately and in detail on this webpage. – information.