Human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation

Human trafficking is always a serious crime and a violation of human rights. Trafficking in children refers to the recruitment, transport, transfer, concealing or receipt of a child for the purpose of obtaining financial or other benefits. In the case of adults, the definition of trafficking in human beings also includes a method such as deception, exploitation of the vulnerability of the victim or the threatening to use force. Due to their age, children are considered to be particularly vulnerable and less able to protect themselves than adults. For this reason, human trafficking is defined differently in the case of adults and children.

Human trafficking is often perceived as a crime where the victim is moved from one country to another. However, human trafficking also takes place within countries – also in Finland. Human trafficking is a form of hidden crime, meaning that only part of the incidents come to the attention of the authorities. Internationally, a third of the victims of human trafficking are estimated to be children.

Human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation (sex trafficking) can take many forms. It is also referred to as “forced prostitution”, “involuntary prostitution” or “sex slavery”. What is common to all forms of sex trafficking is that the victim is placed in a situation where they are subjected to sexual activities or made to act in a sexual manner. The events may be filmed, and these images and videos may be distributed or sold online. Technology also enables the sharing of sexual abuse materials online in real time, even to a large crowd.

Sex trafficking is the most common form of human trafficking internationally. The majority of identified child victims are girls, but all children may become victims of sex trafficking regardless of gender.

The Criminal Code of Finland defines trafficking in children, while “purchase of sexual services from a young person” and “sexual abuse of a child” are separate offences. Such activities are always illegal, regardless of whether the activity constitutes an offence determined as trafficking in human beings.

In Finland, assistance to victims of human trafficking is coordinated by the National Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking. The assistance system has a helpline (open 24/7) and a contact form on their website.

You can contact the Finnish Hotline if you suspect child sex trafficking.

The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Save the Children Finland and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union.