Record Number of Human Trafficking Victims Sought Help in Finland in 2020

Finnish police patrols in front of the Cenral Railway Station in Helsinki on August 18, 2017. Finnish Police announced they will rise the readiness after stabbings in Turku. / AFP PHOTO / Lehtikuva / Linda Manner / Finland OUT (Photo credit should read LINDA MANNER/AFP/Getty Images)

A record number of human trafficking victims sought help from a Finland Centre tackling the issue in 2020.

A total of 123 people contacted the for the Assistance for Victims of Human Trafficking Centre last year and claimed to be victims of the trade. This figure is far higher than the year before when 70 victims sought help, which was itself an increase on the 52 reports in 2018.

Seventy-eight people said they were victims of foreign labour exploitation, a phenomenon which Finnish media highlighted last year when the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat showed how migrants had been lured to the country and forced to work in inhumane conditions in the cleaning industry.

According to a report from broadcaster YLE, cleaning, along with food services, construction, seasonal agriculture, and domestic work, account for a large proportion of the industries in which trafficking victims have been forced to work.

Terhi Tafari, senior advisor at the anti-trafficking centre, said the figures do not reflect the full number of human trafficking victims in Finland.

“In informal discussions, we have heard that even thousands might be in forced labour,” she said.

According to Ms Tafari, those involved in sex trafficking are much more likely to stay quiet about their situation, noting that only 15 sex trafficking victims sought help in 2020.

In October, Finnish police busted a major migrant sex trafficking ring that brought women from Romania into Finland and operated in at least a dozen large cities across the country.

Many of the women were said to have been lured with fake job offers but found themselves engaged in prostitution.

Human trafficking gangs are also a major issue in France and the UK, where an estimated 100 gangs help migrants cross the English Channel, according to a French immigration investigator.

“I’m not talking about the bloke, who knows another bloke who knows a third bloke with a boat. I’m talking about structured networks capable of bringing migrants across borders,” the investigator said.

Modern migrant slave labour has also been documented in the UK, with some estimates claiming as many as 100,000 people work in slave-like conditions.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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