Protect yourself from forced labour, sexual slavery and illegal exploitation when seeking employment in Germany and Europe, help to victims of forced labour
§ Modern slavery and forced labour
Along with official employment, there are well-planned fraud schemes all over the world, as well as organizations that sell people into slavery and exploitation, forcing them to work against their will or on conditions with which the employee does not agree. According to the International Labor Organization, 21 million people are subjected to forced labour worldwide, which brings organizers about 150 billion euros annually.
According to the information, published on the UN official website, for 17 years beginning from 2000, over 13 thousand Ukrainians, who had become victims of human trafficking, availed the assistance of the International Organization for Migration in order to get away from their slavery. Those were people of very different age and with very different education. In most cases, they had been enslaved in Russia and Poland.
Nobody can identify precisely the dimensions of the modern slavery problem, but those are really shocking.
For 17 years beginning from 2000, over 13 thousand Ukrainians, who had become victims of human trafficking, availed the assistance of the International Organization for Migration in order to get away from their slavery (UN News).
Forms of modern slavery
By definition in the UN Slavery Convention, “slavery is the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised", or, in other words, slavery starts when a person becomes a property of another person or is treated as a property – usually, under the threat of violence. In the contemporary world, the following forms of slavery, connected with forced labour and exploitation:
|Forced labour||a form of slavery, in which a person is forced to work against his / her will; such coercion may be expressed in the form of violence, threats, or intimidation;|
|Human trafficking||people would be sold for labour or sexual exploitation as well as for human organ trading; quite often people become victims of human trafficking as a result of illegal migration;|
|Sexual slavery||forced prostitution;|
|Debt settlement||a person is coerced into slave labour as a matter of pledge for thereto given credit or as a matter of payment for the unreturned loan (whether alleged or real); as such forced labour is rewarded very miserably, it may last as long as the victim is alive|
Forced labour and exploitation in Germany
By assessment of the Global Slavery Index website of the Walk Free Foundation, which is fighting for elimination of modern slavery, in Germany the share of residents being enslaved in whatever the form amounts to 2 / 1000. This index is much lower than in other countries, nevertheless even this country is not free from illegal exploitation. According to the report by the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany for 2016, in that year they investigated 363 cases related to sexual exploitation and 12 cases in connection with labour exploitation. In those cases, women accounted for 95% of sexual exploitation victims, and 80% of them were female migrants from other countries. Around 10% of human trafficking victims were coerced into sexual exploitation through model agencies and job offer ads in newspapers.
Therefore, while thinking on the opportunities for working abroad – in particular, in Germany, it is necessary to be cautious so that not to become a victim of human trafficking and forced labour.
In 2016, the German police investigated 363 cases related to sexual exploitation and 12 cases on labour exploitation; migrants from other countries accounted for 80% of the victims (from the German Criminal Police Office report)
§ Working abroad can be a path to slavery and illegal labour exploitation
By information from an international human rights organization of IJM Deutschland e.V., most of the people being enslaved or forced into slave labour happened to find themselves in such situation because they had been deceived or sidetracked. Quite often everything started from the hope to find an attractive job or receive good education. Seeking to improve their living situation, people do not pay attention to the possible risks and thus find themselves in a deadlock: a “good job” turns out as working 18 hours per day in terrible conditions and almost without payment or with no payment at all, and “good education” happens to be coercion into prostitution with any attempts to flee therefrom being entirely supressed.
Stories about the path to sexual slavery and labour exploitation
(1) Published in Watchtower magazine, the article "Fetters of Slavery: the Past and Today" tells a story of the girl, who came to Europe in the hope to work as a hair stylist. However, instead of that, she for 10 days was being beaten and hearing threats to spifflicate her relatives. Thus she was coerced into prostitution. The madam of the brothel, where she found herself, said that the girl owed her 40,000 euros. In order to pay off this mythical debt, the girl needed to earn 200–300 euros per night. She often thought of fleeing, but was concerned that her slaveholders would inflict harm to her family. That was how she was trapped. This is just one of typical stories on how the hope to work abroad can lead a person into slavery or to forced slave labour.
(2) According to the afore-mentioned report of the criminal police, in one case, presented as an example of criminals’ actions, a group from abroad recruited young women from Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina by having promised them solid work in Germany. In fact, however, they were coerced into sexual exploitation in different hotels of Germany.
(3) In another case, a recruitment agency in Ukraine, having promised good jobs for their compatriots, shipped the latter via Poland to Germany. Over there, counter to the promises, they were accommodated in terrible conditions and forced to work for a miserable wage or no wages at all. Some of those workers were supplied with Romanian documents.
§ Precautionary measures in seeking a job abroad: how to secure yourself
In order not to become a victim of slave-traders and forced labour, it is necessary to be cautious. The following recommendations and pieces of advice will help you to evade trapping in a deadlock situation, although the presented list is not full and all-embracing:
- Resorting to services of recruiting agencies or private recruiters, make sure that they operate legally and have the license for operation in the given sphere of activity, if such a license is required in the respective country. If the given intermediary does not present the original license, this is a weighty reason for mistrust.
- Sign the employment contract. Such contract has to be executed in the language that you know well and be fully understandable for you. Should you have any doubts, it would be worthwhile to receive a lawyer’s consultation. In Germany, there is no requirement to sign employment contracts in the German language.
- Do not agree to work illegally or without the hosting state’s permit. In order to work in Germany, you must have a stay permit as well as a work permit. For more details, visit the respective page of our website.
- For working in Germany, at least the basic knowledge of the German or English language is required.
- It is necessary to have copies of all your personal documents, as well as of the employment contract, visa, etc. Give by one copy of each document to your trustful relative or friend, and keep the other copy yourself, because in case your documents are lost the copies will help to restore the originals.
- Make arrangement with some close person regarding regular telephone calls or other contacts. Agree with him / her upon a secret phrase, which, if you pronounce it, will show that you need help.
- Do not give your personal documents to anybody, as only police officers and border guards are entitled to check them.
- Have addresses and telephone numbers of your country’s embassies and consulates, so that you could turn there for help in case your documents are lost.
- Have addresses and telephone numbers of the services that provide help to victims of slavery or to those, who found themselves in a difficult situation.
- Do not let the hope for the better replace your common sense. An interesting point is that in Europe the share of females among the criminals convicted for human trafficking is higher than the share of females among those convicted for all kinds of crimes. In Germany, females account for 21% of the criminals convicted for human trafficking.
In Europe, the share of females among the criminals convicted for human trafficking is higher than the share of females among those convicted for all kinds of crimes (Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2009)
According to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons as of 2009, the victims for human trafficking are usually recruited by criminal groups, which are located in their country, and then sell the victims abroad. Also, in the countries with high-level incomes where migrant workers go, it is the foreigners who most often happen to be criminals. While both males and females become victims of human trafficking, women and girls account for almost 80% of the affected.
§ Specific features of a recruiter for the slave trade and forced bonded labor in a job offer abroad
While looking for a job in another country, pay attention to the job offer as such and to the intermediary’s behavior, plus to the contents and manner of his / her talk, as this can help to reveal the signs of slave-trading units or offers of forced labour. Be attentive to the following features:
- The job-offering intermediary does not have the official job-placement license.
- The intermediary does not let you know the name and address of the firm, where he / she offers to place you into job, and all his / her information is only provided in vague and meaningless phrases. Or, the provided contact details of the would-be employer firm are impossible to check.
- The job offer implies the illegal entry into another country or illegal work there. Quite often the human-trafficking deals take place en route to the place of work.
- The employment contract or job-placement contract are either not signed, or are executed in a language, which you do not understand, with unclear terms and conditions.
- It is offered to pay for your transportation, accommodation and meals after the first months of your work, but this service is provided on credit. If a person accepts such "wonderful" conditions, s/he would be indebted heavily, and for some fictional reasons s/he would have either to pay back the debt by means being entirely different from the agreed ones or to work for a considerably curtailed salary.
- The intermediary says that s/he will take your money and documents under the pretext of safe storage or of using the same for obtaining the visa and other permits.
- The job offer is oriented to the high-risk groups: young women, poorly educated or impoverished persons, children from troubled families and orphans, etc. The intermediary has little interest in the applicant’s education and work experience, and is preoccupied with the main goal to recruit as many people as possible.
- The person is brought to a place where s/he is imprisoned and guarded. Also, for the purpose of controlling the given person, narcotic substances are applied.
- To reach their purposes, slave-traders use to apply intimidation, blackmail and threats to inform the police, to organize deportation, to communicate false defaming data to the relatives or to subject them to violence.
- The more attractive is the job offer, the less truthful it is. The promised salary is strongly exaggerated.
- The job offer contains only the mobile telephone number of the recruiters, while their address and landline phone number are missing.
§ Assistance to victims of slavery and forced labour, where to turn for help
If you have become a victim of human trafficking or forced labour, you may request help at any police department or make a hotline call in Germany - 110. Besides, you may write your statement to the police through the Internet, and in this case you should first select the respective land/ federated state of Germany.
List of counseling centers and help centers:
- LARA - Rape Crisis and Counselling Centre Web site
- Ban Ying Coordination and Counseling Center against Trafficking in Human Beings Web site
- KOK - German Network against Trafficking in Human Beings Web site
- Ecpat Germany e.V. Working group to protect children from sexual exploitation Web site
Centers providing consulting and help for migrants and victims of human trafficking are as well available in other countries, and some contact details are as follows:
- Nationwide helpline for women, Germany: telephone numbers: 0800 011 60 16
- Police in Germany, telephone numbers: 110
- National toll-free hotline on combating trafficking in persons and consulting for migrants in Ukraine. Website: http://www.migrantinfo.org.ua/ , telephone numbers: 527 or 0800-505-501
- All-Russian national toll-free anonymous hotline on combating trafficking in persons in Russia: 8-800-333-00-16.
- Helpline of the Republic of Kazakhstan on combating trafficking in persons: 11616
§ Links to useful websites
- Police, information for victims
- Service Center Against Labour Exploitation, Forced Labour and Human Trafficking in Germany
- KOK - German NGO network against trafficking in human beings
- UN Slavery Convention
- UN Convention on the Abolition of Slavery
- UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers
- International Organization for Migration in Russia
- Global Report on Trafficking in Persons
- Global Slavery Index