The phenomenon of human trafficking is an ancient one, as it can be defined as the continuation of the practice of slavery, which has existed throughout the history of humankind.
The current definition of the offense is defined in Polish law as:
The recruitment, transportation, delivery, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons using:
- The means of the threat or use of force,
- The misrepresentation of, or exploitation of an inability to properly understand, the undertaken action.
- The abuse of power, or of a position of vulnerability,
- The giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person,
-for the purpose of exploitation, even with the person’s consent, in the forms of prostitution, pornography or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking in persons” even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in points 1 – 6 in the above article.
Both the perpetrator as well as the victim are often aware that the crime of human trafficking has taken place, although the victims mostly gain this awareness only after the offence has occurred. This therefore leads to the situation where the individual who is the most important witness to the offence, the victim, will often remain in silence, and not speak out against their perpetrator – due to shame, fear, and ignorance.
It is often the case that in occurrences of human trafficking, it is only the intervention of a third party that can change the situation. This is due to the fact that the victim is often lacking the means to escape, the means to establish contact with the police or their loved ones, or is rendered helpless through a material or psychological dependence on their trafficker.
This is why occurrences of trafficking are often deduced and inferred from snippets of information.
What are the warning signs that we should look out for?
- Someone appears within your local community, offering:
- Illegal work.
- A trip to an “exotic destination”,
- Lucrative work, available exclusively for women.
- Work in which you do not need to know the local language, or have any qualifications, etc.
- A sudden offer of work within a short time frame, which disables you to think through the proposition.
- The organisation of all the necessary paper-work, visas, and border crossings.
- The covering of all costs of the trip (the transport, documentation, food and board), linking them back to your future earnings.
- After an individual has left the country:
- They stop being in contact with their loved ones.
- They do keep in touch but in a sporadic manner: conversations are kept short and frequently interrupted, they are unwilling to provide their telephone number and address, they are unable to speak freely, and/or they seem to be under the influence of drugs.
- A person goes missing who:
- Was planning to travel abroad (e.g. For work).
- Was in financial need.
- Was looking for their missing passport.
- Had recently established new “friendships” through the internet, or had found work (eg through the newspaper, internet, or a new “friend”)
- After their return, individuals who have been victims of human trafficking may be identified through the following signs:
- They are without any luggage or money.
- They are unwilling to talk about their time away.
- They shy away from contact with people, even their loved ones.
- They seem to be in a worrying psychological state (eg suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts, or addictions of any kind).
- It is difficult for them to return to normal routines, such a going back to work or school.
- They do not answer telephone calls, and are afraid of leaving their home, or going outside.
- In the sex industry: either on the street, in an agency, or in a club:
- They have signs of physical abuse on their bodies.
- They are afraid.
- They are not earning any money, even though they are working.
- They do not have any personal documents with them (e.g. a passport).
- They do not have the ability to move around freely, or have contact with “the outside world”.
- They are only able to speak with people from “the outside world” if they are in the company of their pimp, or working colleagues.
- They are not allowed to refuse any clients, or their requests.
- They are expected to work on a continuous basis, even when in ill health, or pregnant.
- In the case of an inspection, all “working” individuals have the same amount of money on them.