Call for stricter measures against clients of forced prostitution: report
Clients who knowingly engage in sexual activity with victims of human trafficking should face stricter consequences. The Center against Child Trafficking and Human Trafficking (CKM) emphasized in a report released on Monday the need for greater efforts to target these clients in the fight against forced prostitution and sexual exploitation.
In its report titled “Invisible victims of human trafficking in 2022,” CKM has for the fourth time analyzed conversations with human trafficking victims on the anonymous online assistance platform run by the knowledge center Fier. In 2022, the platform was approached by a total of 229 individuals seeking help concerning human trafficking, mostly related to sexual exploitation.
In this research,CKM specifically examined the victims' statements regarding clients for the first time. Their findings suggest that “a significant portion” of clients were aware or should be aware that they were having sex with an underage person and were actively contributing to sexual exploitation.
“This report shows for the first time that there is a significant group of clients who effectively abuse victims of human trafficking,” said CKM spokesperson Shamir Ceuleers. Clients who pay an underage person for sex are punishable by law. With people over the age of 18, clients can also face punishment if they are aware or have a strong reason to suspect coercion.
The center recommends that State Secretary for Justice and Security Eric van der Burg adopt a better approach towards this group. "So far there has been a lack of proactive policy," Ceuleers wrote.
CKM also pointed out the role parents play in sexual exploitation. An analysis shows that more than 100 children were exploited by at least one parent in the period 2019-2022.