How many people are trafficked and/or exploited?
Human trafficking and labour exploitation is happening all over Europe. How do we know this?
As is shown on our map, cases of forced labour involving many people are occasionally exposed and appear in the media. European NGOs deal with victims of human trafficking and/or severe labour exploitation on a regular basis. Each year, national authorities register officially identified victims of human trafficking. And in 2012, the International Labour Organisation estimated that 880,000 people are in a situation of forced labour in the EU alone (see disclaimer).
However, the changing nature of human trafficking, as well as the challenges in the identification of victims and collecting data, make it difficult to get a complete picture.
Why don’t we have the whole picture?
- It is difficult to spot the signs of human trafficking and labour exploitation. It is often hidden from the public eye, taking place on remote agricultural fields, in ‘out of the way’ mining camps and garment factories, and even in private homes.
- Victims can be reluctant to contact public authorities or report their perpetrators due to intimidation, threats of violence against their families and other risks. They often fear they may be deported or prosecuted for working without proper documentation, despite having been forced into it.
- Responsible authorities are often unequipped to identify and prosecute cases of human trafficking. This too leads to a lack of complete statistics on the issue.
What action is needed to improve our knowledge and awareness?