With the HOW CLOSE ARE YOU? campaign, which will last from September until the end of 2022, we will try to raise awareness that anyone can be a victim of human trafficking and that human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation takes place nearby.
We want to encourage people to pay attention, recognize trafficking in their environment and report the case. But at the same time, if they are a potential victim, we want to educate them to recognize the early signs that may indicate that they have received a false job offer or are at risk so that they seek advice or help based on that. We especially appeal to employees in health care, social care, prosecutor's office, courts, police, and competent institutions (whose role is essential in recognizing and protecting victims of human trafficking) to perform their duties in an informed and responsible manner.
We will started the information and prevention campaign of human trafficking, i.e., one of its increasingly present forms - human trafficking for labor exploitation, with a public event that will take place on Republic Square, on Wednesday, September 21, at 12 noon.
On this occasion, an installation - Labyrinth of human trafficking was installed on the Square. With this labyrinth, we wanted to bring the experience of victims of human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation closer to citizens. By moving through the labyrinth, citizens were able to learn more about the ways of entering the chain of human trafficking and the types of prevention and assistance available to them. The labyrinth was set until September 23 at 5 p.m., and members of our team informed passers-by during those three days about prevention methods, the rights of victims of labor exploitation, and free-of-charge ASTRA support services.
Most victims of human trafficking exploited on the territory of Serbia are citizens of our country. Out of a total of 46 officially identified victims of human trafficking in Serbia in 2021, 39 of them are Serbian citizens. These are official data, but many victims of human trafficking who never reach state authorities or non-governmental organizations remain invisible and far from the public eye, because exploitation occurs in closed spaces, private households, fields, estates, or fenced and closed factories and construction sites. The number of undetected and unrecognized cases of human trafficking by system institutions, according to experts' estimates, can be up to 10 times higher than the number of registered victims. According to the latest report of the International Labor Organization (ILO), in 2021, the number of victims of human trafficking raised to 10 more million (a total of 50 million people), while around 28 million people worldwide are in a situation of forced labor. In this sense, Serbia is no exception. Moreover, bearing in mind the strategic-geographical position of Serbia, economic and war migration, the covid pandemic, and its consequences on the economy, the number of (potential) domestic and foreign trafficking victims is increasing. Numerous cases indicate this from the practice of ASTRA, some of which never reach the public, and some are discussed but in a limited form.
Although the crisis, society, and the unresponsiveness of the institutions are pushing us to accept a situation in which an increasing number of people in our environment will agree to difficult working conditions or find themselves in a situation of forced labor that they cannot leave − with the campaign HOW CLOSE ARE YOU? We want to remind our citizens that we are dealing with human lives and destinies that can be permanently damaged or destroyed by such treatment. And that's why: Report, it is a matter of life! ASTRA SOS hotline 011 785 0000.
The campaign will be based on three storylines from the practice of ASTRA that best illustrate the contemporary forms of human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation that we have encountered in recent years. It will also cover the causes and consequences of this criminal act and how actors in combating human trafficking, competent institutions, and society reacted to them. Our goal, as ever before, is to improve the position of victims and potential victims of human trafficking in our society.
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