Half of human trafficking survivors fall victim again within 7 years
Half of human trafficking victims will become victims of a crime again within seven years, concluded Herman Bolhaar, the National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking and Sexual Violence against Children in the Victim Monitor Human Trafficking 2016-2020. "Victims really need to be better and actively protected to prevent recurrence or worse," said Bolhaar. The coronavirus pandemic also has additional adverse consequences for the victims.
Victims and perpetrators are often young. Minors, in particular, run the risk of becoming victims of crime again. Other groups vulnerable to human trafficking are migrant workers and people from outside the European Union who come to the Netherlands but have no residency permit here. The coronavirus crisis and restrictions have further isolated these groups and made them extra vulnerable.
To prevent victims of human trafficking from being hit again, more attention should be paid to the circumstances in which the exploitation occurs and the problems that the victim faces. "Whether victims receive the right help depends on things like residency status, place of residence, and age. But help must match the needs of the victim," said Bolhaar.
In 2020, there were 984 reports of human trafficking in the Netherlands. That was a decrease compared to the 1,334 reports in 2019. "The reduced travel movements and limitations in detection and identification due to coronavirus restrictions seem to have caused this," the report stated. This is undoubtedly reflected in the figures for victims of criminal exploitation and sexual exploitation of people without a Dutch passport. These reports decreased from 668 in 2019 to 289 in 2020.
Victims of domestic sexual exploitation have become less visible due to the pandemic. The number of reports in 2020 was only 11 percent of the total reports. While domestic sexual exploitation, in which victims do have a Dutch passport, is estimated to be the most common form of human trafficking in the Netherlands, and underage victims account for a large share, the report said.
Labor exploitation was a significant part of all reports received by the National Rapporteur in 2020. Last year they formed 43 percent of reports; in 2019, it was still 17 percent. "Most victims reported themselves to aid organizations when they lost not only their work but also their housing and residency permit as a result of the coronavirus measures. It is worrying that investigative authorities did not recognize these cases much earlier."
Reporting by ANP