Human Trafficking in Slovakia
Human trafficking in the Roma communities of Slovakia is considered as a very serious problem. Many Roma from impoverished and segregated settlements in Slovakia become victims of human trafficking primarily in the form of work slavery. Hundreds of victims remain unknown, however, because these victims lack sufficient information about how they should guard against trafficking or because they don’t trust the police and don’t report such criminal activities. For this reason, the Roma Media Center (MECEM) initiated a media campaign in 2009 whose goal was to increase awareness within Roma communities about this phenomenon and to improve prevention.
”The film ‘Human Trafficking’ has been in preparation for more than a year,” said the screenwriter and chief editor Jarmila Vaňová before the film’s premiere. “During this time we visited dozens of locations. We knew that this is a very serious problem affecting poor Roma in particular. We couldn’t have guessed, however, what sort of fated people we would run across. The reaction of our viewers opened the doors to a world which is playing out right before our eyes, although most of us don’t see it,” she added. “The most common victims of human trafficking are people from poor families who are attempting to find a way out of a bad situation. They don’t want to break the law in doing so. They only want to work and the opportunity to support their own family and change their lives. They can’t imagine that the offer for well-paid work abroad is a trap from which there is no easy escape,” Vaňová pointed out.
According to the Report on Human Trafficking issued by the United States Secretary of State, aside from the drug trade and the illegal arms trade, human trafficking has become the third most profitable type of organized crime. Official data says that profits from this business may range from 7-10 billion dollars a year. Perhaps 80% of the victims of human trafficking are women and girls, and up to 50% of victims are underage. Most victims are trafficked for the purpose of sexually abusing them in prostitution, pornography and the like, but the number of victims abused for illegal work in industry, agriculture and as domestics is on the increase, according to opening remarks of the ceremony by representative of the Slovak Ministry of the Interior, Colonel Ing. Jozef Hlinka, Vice-Chairman of the ministry’s commission for the battle against human trafficking. He appreciated not only the high professional quality of the film being premiered but also the courage of its makers, who took on such a serious subject. “I’m able to say that this is the first time in Europe that such a specialized documentary has originated from within the Roma community and in the Romani language,” he pointed out.
The celebratory preview of the documentary took place on 8 April, with more than 100 people taking part. The film will be provided for free to schools, educational centers, social and field workers, non-governmental organizations, labor offices and police specialists who will use the film in the course of their preventive and educational activities. The film originated with the financial support of the Office of the Government of the Slovak Republic in the scope of the Action Play for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, Racism, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism and Other Expressions of Intolerance and also with financial support from the Open Society Institute. The film is at the same time the contribution of the Roma Media Center (MECEM) to the European year of the battle against poverty and the socially excluded.