Greek police authorities recorded 142 human trafficking cases in the years 2014-2018, with women being the majority of victims, according to a report which came out on Tuesday, on the occasion of the UN’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
The report was released by the Greek national news agency, AMNA.
The total number of victims in the cases investigated during this five-year period was 229, according to data from the Greek police. Adult females represented 77.7 percent of that total, corresponding to 178 individuals, while the remaining 60 victims were minors, or 26.2 percent of the total.
Despite prevailing perceptions, the victims of human trafficking in Greece in recent years were not exclusively foreigners; 32 of them were actually Greek citizens.
According to police figures, the three most common forms of trafficking found in the country are sexual exploitation, enforced begging, and labor slavery (especially in the agricultural sector).
Iraklis Moskov, a Foreign Ministry expert and reporter who specializes in combatting human trafficking, told the AMNA that the statistics do not truly reflect the actual dimensions of the phenomenon.
There is a large number of potential victims who successfully reach out to institutions for help, instead of reporting that they are victims of exploitation.
The detection and identification of victims is also becoming increasingly difficult in Greece, especially in recent years, due to the enormous influx of migrants the nation has taken in since 2016.
According to Moskov, their exploitation is linked to a powerful market comprising both “products and services”; the trafficked persons are being used for agricultural work in the fields, and as prostitutes and beggars. Others are forced to work in clothing factories. Their babies are also being stolen and sold in illegal adoptions.
Greece’s Office of the National Coordinator, in cooperation with the National Center for Social Solidarity (EKKA) of the Ministry of Labor, has been using a resource called the National Reference Mechanism since January 1, 2019.
The Mechanism is a tool for coordinating all the national resources in Greece for the collection of data and the protection of the victims of human trafficking.
The most recent undertaking of the Mechanism is to expand the number of professionals who can assist in the identification of additional potential victims, through new training that they are receiving.
The specialized training in recognizing trafficking victims will be undertaken by a team of experts on the Greek islands most affected by the refugee crisis, including Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Leros, and Kos.
Later training will take place on Evros in August and on the island of Rhodes in September. Workers for non-governmental organizations, social workers, policemen, port authority employees and nurses are among the professionals who have already attended the classes.
The national coalition’s next ambitious project is to create five facilities for human trafficking victims: one for women in Athens, two for minors (both boys and girls) in Athens, and two for men, in the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki.
Marked every July 30th, the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is an annual event instituted by the United Nations, with the aim of stopping the exploitation of people for profit and to help victims rebuild their lives.