What is human trafficking? The recruitment, transportation, transfer, accommodation or reception of persons by force, fraud or deception, for the purpose of exploiting them for profit. This manifests itself in various forms: sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced criminal activity or organ donation. 

Every year, more than 7,000 people are victims of human trafficking in the European Union. It is essential to mention that the number of victims must be much higher because it is difficult to count them all. Women and girls constitute the majority of victims of this trafficking. At least 2 out of 3 victims are women*. 

At the European level, a directive adopted in 2011 has become obsolete. Lawmakers thus began proceedings to update the rules on preventing and combating human trafficking. Today, a new directive adopted by the European Parliament has sent a strong signal in the fight against this barbarism. 

The Left is proud to have driven this ambitious directive thanks to the work of our MEPs Maria Eugenia Rodriguez Palop (Podemos; Spain) and Malin Bjork (Sweden), both rapporteurs of this text. The passing of this law marks a turning point in the fight for human rights, as new forms of exploitation have been added, including forced marriage, illegal adoption and “the exploitation of surrogacy” in the case of when the mother is a victim of trafficking. The scope has been extended with the addition of new vulnerable groups, such as children in institutions recruited by criminal groups to participate in criminal activities, persons with disabilities and stateless persons who are explicitly mentioned as vulnerable groups. 

Maria Eugenia Rodriguez Palop said: “Revising the rules on human trafficking was essential. With this piece of legislation, we are introducing the exploitation of surrogacy, the online dimension, new sanctions, specialised assistance and support, better training, mandatory criminalisation of the use of services, national referral mechanisms, focal points, national anti-trafficking coordinators, independent bodies to monitor, national action plans or the collection of data. We will be closer to ending this form of barbarism!”

Malin Björk (Vänsterpartiet, Sweden): “I am very happy and proud to end this term by voting through two important feminist laws that I have been so involved in – the directive against gender-based violence and the directive to combat trafficking in human beings. As  left-wing feminists, we have been central to pushing these laws.” 

This text is a great victory for human rights. Trafficking in human beings must be eradicated globally. The Left will always be on the front line, fighting against those who think they can exploit people with impunity.

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