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About the Author

Luan Galani
Science & Development Journalist (Curitiba, Brazil)

A twenty-something eternal apprentice who has a passionate interest in what happens around him. Fascinated by the under-reported, he refuses to be a detached observer and never tires of exploring the untold. His long-life dream is reporting from conflict zones to dig up the underbelly side of war.



Published 07th July 2010 - 12 comments - 5247 views -

"Europeans believe that slavery was abolished centuries ago. But look around - slaves are in our midst. We must do more to reduce demand for slave-made products and exploitation," said the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa.

(Photo by Dean Ayres)

A brand new report delivered by the United Nations shows that human trafficking is one of the most lucrative illicit businesses in Europe. Criminal groups in the old continent are making around €2.5 billion per year through sexual exploitation and forced labour.



Annual flow of new victims: About 70,000 victims (based on two-year turnover)

Volume of market (stock): About 140,000 victims

Value of market (stock): US$3 billion per year


Groups involved: Western European, Balkan, Eastern European,

North African, Turkish, Nigerian and Chinese groups

Residence of traffickers: Origin and destination countries


In Europe over half of the victims come from the Balkans (32%) and the former Soviet Union (19%), with 13% originating in South America.

Over 140,000 victims are trapped in this vicious cycle of abuse, with no clear sign of the overall number of victims decreasing.

The vast majority of victims – generally duped, misled or forced into the service – are young women who are drugged, imprisoned, have debt imposed on them, have their passport confiscated, amongst other pressure tools.

Violence is frequently used to control victims. Russian organized criminal gangs engaged in human trafficking are reported to adopt particularly harsh methods of control. Often, before being presented to clients, women are raped by the traffickers themselves (!).

Prosecutions for this recurrent breach of human rights in Western Europe still remain relatively low.

In 2006, the entire Western Hemisphere only recorded some 150 convictions for human trafficking, which is about the same number as Germany alone. It is difficult to say to what extent this is indicative of a greater problem or whether it is simply a matter of greater vigilance.

Most of these human traffickings are characterized by recruitment conducted by victims’ acquaintances. According to the UN report, based on studies conducted in the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania, the majority of victims are recruited through friends or relatives. More, studies from Ukraine indicate that 11% of victims were trafficked with the active cooperation of their husbands.

As a counterstrategy, a major campaign was created to raise awareness on this issue amongst decision-makers and the general public. It is called the Blue Heart Campaign.

And Spain has come to be the first country in Europe to join the Blue Heart Campaign. Truly, a feather in its cap!

(Featured image by Dean Ayres)


  • Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 07th July 2010:

    Sad rality :(

  • Giedre Steikunaite on 07th July 2010:

    This is exactly the slave-owning mentality we thought we got rid of years ago: slave is not understood as a human being, but rather as a possession, a commodity, like a hairbrush or a table. I could never understand how someone could do such a thing to another person. Horrible.

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 07th July 2010:


    It’s a sad reality especially in developing countries. Here, white slavery is still very much rampant. Painful. Thanks for this post.

  • Luan Galani on 07th July 2010:

    Thanks for the comments.

    With no shred of doubt it is strikingly horrible. And we have to tackle it.

    In my opinion, besides prosecutions, equality is the key factor urgently needed. Most victims are from poor families, do not have access to education and other basic rights, are deceived by the idea of a better life in central Europe, and so on. So, this governmental gap in many countries has to be fulfilled. It is not easy, but who said it would be, right? =) We can change…

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 07th July 2010:

    there was one Hollywood film (100% Hollywood wink about the issue - Taken… and very sad Russian movie “lilja 4 ever” - great film but so deppresive.

  • Luan Galani on 07th July 2010:

    Thanks for the tips, Iwona. I’ll take a look.

  • Benno Hansen on 08th July 2010:

    “Voodoo ~8%” !?

  • Luan Galani on 08th July 2010:

    Yeah, even that, believe it or not wink

  • Hussam Hussein on 10th July 2010:

    thanks for the post. Still a lot to do in this direction, it’s good to maintain the lights on this issue..

  • Luan Galani on 10th July 2010:

    Indeed, Hussam. Other very interesting post on this issue is worth checking:

  • Hanna Clarys on 16th July 2010:

    And again, women are the main victims…

  • Luan Galani on 16th July 2010:

    Unfortunately, yes. =(

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