Sunday, December 11, 2011

Human trafficking and organized Prostitution in Finland

Earlier this year, CNN joined the fight against modern-day slavery with the objective of  shining the spot light on the plight of victims of modern-day slavery and help "unravel the complicated tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life." Through the CNN Freedom Project, the news network has done a good job so far bringing to light cases of modern-day slavery and human trafficking, such as the case of African girls held as modern-day slaves in Newark, New Jersey. There are about 10 to 20 million modern-day slaves worldwide. Cases of people held in slave-like conditions have been reported in Russia, China and even Sweden. Unfortunately, Finland, a small and relatively safe Nordic country, has added to the list - following news of women allegedly trafficked and held as prostitutes in Lahti.

According to news reports, police recently uncovered a case of organized prostitution and human trafficking in Lahti, a city located about 100 kilometers north-east of Helsinki, Finland's capital. The victims - women from Thailand, Africa, Russia and Estonia - were exploited by a young couple in the small town. The couple took home "hundreds of thousands of euros" from the illicit business. [Source].

An investigation is on-going.

It is worth mentioning that governments around the world are making noticeable efforts to take human traffickers and modern-day slave owners out of business. For example, in the Newark, New Jersey case, the perpetrators were tried and convicted; in Sweden, the Chinese migrant worker who was held in "slave-like" conditions received reparation, and in China, police recently busted a human trafficking ring and arrested hundreds of suspects.

These are commendable steps to unravel this criminal enterprise that thrives on human rights violations.

It remains to be seen whether those allegedly involved in human trafficking and organized prostitution in Lahti, Finland, would be brought to justice.

Side note: YLE reported that victims of trafficking in the case that is currently being investigated in Lahti come from Thailand, Russia, Estonia and Africa. This raises an important question: where in Africa are the victims from? Africa is not a country; it is a continent made up of 54 sovereign countries (as of time of this writing). It would be more helpful to identify the African countries from where victims originate so that human rights advocates and researchers would know where exactly to direct their efforts.

*Photo: A campaign by Amnesty International (German Section) designed to fight human trafficking - on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of human rights. The idea: a woman was put in a transparent suitcase and the case was place on the luggage belt at an airport in Munich, Germany. [Source].

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