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Crime and Policing

Campaign launched against human trafficking

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The Guardia Civil and Diaconía have presented the campaign “And you, who would you call?” with the aim of preventing and raising awareness about human trafficking for the sexual exploitation of women and girls.

This joint campaign is aimed at detecting private apartments where victims are being sexually exploited clandestinely, a phenomenon that has seen an increase as a result of the pandemic.

This crime continues to spread to private spaces, which increases the vulnerability of women who are victims of this crime. Furthermore, by operating in the privacy of a private home, these women are rendered invisible and isolated from other resources for assistance and reporting that could help them escape from criminal networks.

In this way, the aim is to make as many people as possible aware of the existence of this activity through the motto “And you, who would you call?” Among the planned actions is the dissemination of material in different formats, campaigns on social networks and advertisements on marquees, as well as printed elements, to publicise this reality that affects prostituted women.

More than 650 victims last year

In Spain, during 2023, 294 victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and 370 victims of sexual exploitation were identified, meaning that more than 650 people have been victims of sexual exploitation in the country. 98% of these victims are women.

Human trafficking is considered one of the most profitable forms of crime, along with drug and arms trafficking, and has strong links to transnational organised crime. In Spain, it is a crime in which the perpetrators recruit and transport victims in order to exploit them by using threats, violence, coercion or other forms of abuse, forcing them into prostitution with their presumed consent and obtaining a large economic benefit.

In sexual exploitation, similar to human trafficking, criminal organisations force victims into prostitution through the use of violence, deception, manipulation or intimidation, with the obvious aim of obtaining financial gain from which the victim receives only what is necessary to maintain a life in deplorable conditions, sometimes having to pay compensation to the criminals themselves.

In recent years, prostitution has moved from public places such as the street or hostess clubs to private residential spaces such as apartments or chalets, where without legalisation or licensing of any type of activity, they benefit from the anonymity that these types of locations provide. Also taking advantage of the legal protection that the domicile status grants to these places.

Invisibility of the problem

Apartments where women are exploited have become a criminal tool that is very easy to put into operation, which also provides great discretion and privacy for consumers, who try to go unnoticed among the neighbours of the block of flats or the urbanisation. But this represents a clear invisibility of the problem and, what is more worrying, the total invisibility of the victims, who in many cases can barely leave the home. With this isolation, they are more exposed to the attacks of criminals who exercise psychological violence against the victims, forcing them to live in the same place where they are exploited and, furthermore, in a way that is totally opaque to society.

Furthermore, exploitation in these places does not have any schedule, since they are far from any appearance of a commercial establishment open to the public, taking advantage of the fact that the victims are obliged to reside in that same place and are forced to be completely available to the men who pay to access the bodies of women and girls.

Under this umbrella of domicile, criminal organisations have oriented their activity within the world of prostitution to apartments distributed throughout any part of Spanish territory. That is to say, there is no specific characteristic or place in which a place of this type can be located, where a woman could be exploited.

For this reason, both Diaconía and the Guardia Civil request the collaboration of the neighbours who live with this problem day after day, and which, in addition, generates problems of insecurity due to the constant movement of men who access these places demanding sex for payment of some kind, and of the victims found there.

The complaint can be made anonymously by emailing Trata@guardiacivil.es, at any Guardia Civil post or with the advice of a specialised NGO such as Diaconía. In addition, they must avoid any type of confrontation with both the consumers and any of the people who may be in the flat. Above all, they must bear in mind that women are victims of an abusive situation and may not be aware of their status as victims of a crime, therefore, they must avoid blaming them for the situation they suffer.

The collaboration protocols signed with NGOs such as Diaconía seek to guarantee psychosocial and economic care for victims, ensuring protection for victims from the outset.

Diaconia Spain

Diaconía España is a social action platform focused on action and work with the most vulnerable people. One of its main missions is to provide comprehensive protection and assistance to victims of human trafficking, offering them care, advice and possibilities for reintegration.

It has currently positioned itself as a leading social entity and has a team capable of responding to the needs of the most vulnerable people in society.

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