Malta has one of the highest rates of human trafficking victims in the entire European Union, an EU Commission report has revealed.
In a new study, Malta ranked fifth for the highest number of victims per million inhabitants (42). The figures, which cover the years 2017 and 2018, are lifted directly from data compiled by the Home Affairs Ministry and Police.
The countries with larger portions of human trafficking victims are Cyprus (168), Hungary (48), Netherlands (47) and Austria (44). The United Kingdom scored high (91), but is not included since it does not form part of the European bloc following Brexit.
As a whole, EU countries reported 14,145 victims of human trafficking between 2017 and 2018, of which 72% were women and girls. Children accounted for nearly a quarter (22%) of all registered victims. However, the actual number of victims could be far higher due to the lack of consistent and comparable data.
MEPs are calling for tougher anti-trafficking rules to address the issue, especially by criminalising the “knowing use of sexual services” by victims of trafficking, stronger child protection measures and better protection of migrants and asylum seekers who are particularly at risk of being trafficked.
In a report adopted on 9th February, Parliament urged the European Commission to address the use of online technologies, including social media, to entrap victims.
Worryingly, Malta ranked first when it came to having the highest proportion of victims who were trafficked for labour exploitation (82%). Around 16% of all cases are expressly used for sexual exploitation and around 2% face domestic servitude.
Figures show that when it comes to EU victims of human trafficking in Malta, all are related to sexual exploitation.
When it came to EU victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, all of Malta’s cases involved women and girls, the highest in the EU bloc. However, when it came to human trafficking in general, the number of female (60%) and male (40%) victims are more evenly split.
Human trafficking is the exploitation of people against their will. Traffickers tend to exploit vulnerable people for financial gain by tricking or forcing them into prostitution and forced labour or other forms of exploitation.
It is the second-biggest source of illicit profits for organised crime after the drugs trade according to the United Nations.
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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.