Over 6,000 people in the Netherlands are the victims of human trafficking every year, two-thirds of whom are coerced into the sex trade, according to a new report from the national reporter on trafficking in human beings and sexual violence.
Dutch girls form the biggest group of victims – some 1,320 every year – but because they are more likely to be hidden victims, they don’t get the protection they need, the report states.
It is the first time the Dutch organisation has published an estimate for the number of trafficking victims. The research was carried out together with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Some 46% of cases involve coercion within the sex trade in the Netherlands itself and a further 21% stem from cross-border trafficking for the sex industry – mainly prostitution. Other areas of exploitation include forced labour and forced criminal activity.
One in six victims is male, of whom over 50% have been brought to the Netherlands and forced to work or to join criminal gangs, the report shows.
The estimated total is over six times that of the actual number of reports, whose total fell 17% last year to 952.
‘I am extremely concerned about the drop in reports,’ said national reporter Corinne Dettmeijer. ‘Human trafficking is not in decline. We now know that the number of victims is around 6,250 a year and this means an increasing number of cases are under the radar.’
‘This should lead the police to make extra capacity free to combat human trafficking,’ she said.
The number of people in the Netherlands found guilty of human trafficking went down 25% in 2016 to just 103, the NRC said earlier this year.
The maximum penalty for human trafficking was increased to 12 years in 2012 but that the average sentence was 585 days. Just five suspects last year were jailed for more than 1,500 days and almost a quarter of suspects are eventually found not guilty, the paper said.
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