Trafficking in Denmark

There is no knowledge about the correct number of trafficking victims in Denmark. In recent years there have been between 3 and 8 court rulings concerning cases of trafficking per year, but apart from that the authorities fail to provide meaningful information which could shed some light on the  real extend of trafficking in Denmark.

This is despite the fact that police routinely raid brothels – on average every brothel in Denmark  was raided 1,5 time in 2008 – and despite the fact that government organizations as well as NGOs receive millions of euros each year to identify and help victims of trafficking in the sex industry.

There are good reasons for this lack of knowledge. An expert group in the European Union has given a number of recommendations to national authorities, to ensure that these comply with human rights in dealing with victims and possible victims of trafficking. Danish authorities violate practically all of these recommendations.

The realities currently are:

• Possible victims are arrested and punished for minor offences, such as lack of working permit or tax offences.

• Police-raids in brothels are conducted in a forceful and degrading manner.

• For years migrant sex workers placed in a shelter in an undisclosed location, where they were locked up and denied the possibility of private telephone conversations.

• Victims of trafficking are only offered protection if they cooperate with the police – and if they are not sex workers by choice.

The consequence is that only one person was offered protection and cooperated with the police in a trafficking-case during 2008 (Source: US State Department, Trafficking in Persons Report 2009)

SIO’s view is that the Danish authorities:

• Must listen to migrant sex workers, with respect for their choices, whether they are victims of trafficking or not.

• Must comply with international standards and recommendations when it comes to protection of victims, and possible victims of trafficking.

• Must understand that trafficking is rooted in social inequality, and that it should be treated as such.

Furthermore, SIO notes that the new American government emphasises the need to focus on trafficking and forced labour in other trades than sex work. Danish authorities have no plan or program against forced labour beyond sex work. It is our view that Danish authorities merely abuse the public worry over trafficking to fight against our profession.