Menschenhandel gro

Human Trafficking

... is one of the most serious violations of human rights in Europe today. Each year, tens of thousands of women, men and children are being forced into prostitution or exploited as cheap laborers. FIM provides these victims with vital help.

Since its foundation in 1980, FIM has been engaged in the work against human trafficking as one of its central concerns. With the support of the state government of Hesse (since 1999), FIM has been able to establish itself as the Hessian coordination and service center for victims of human trafficking.
FIM is a member of KOK e.V. (the national coordinating group against human trafficking).

What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking violates the person’s right of personal freedom as well as his/her psychological and physical integrity. Since February 2005, the German national penal law defines human trafficking as the exploitation of dire circumstances or helplessness, which is specifically related to living in a foreign country with the intentions of:

  • Sexual exploitation and forced prostitution (§232 StGB);
  • The exploitation of manual labor in various fields of work (§233 StGB)Sexual violence affects foremost (almost without exception) girls and women, whereas the crime of labor exploitation (§233 StGB) concerns many male victims.

Backround infiormation: Human trafficking in Prostitution

Almost solely young women, including minors, are affected by sexual exploitation and forced prostitution. Germany is, in addition to other Western European countries, one of the central countries in which trafficking in human beings occurs. Many victims of human trafficking come from Eastern and Central European countries, but also from African, Asian and Latin American countries.

According to the Report of the Federal Criminal Investigation Agency (Bundeskriminalamt - BKA), approximately 600-800 women are registered each year as victims of trafficking in human beings.

All experts agree that this number only accounts for a small percentage of actual cases. It is estimated that more than 10.000 women in Germany are forced into prostitution each year. Additionally, it is estimated that within Europe, the number of smuggled and trafficked women is more than 100.000.

Lured Abroad

Many people who become victims of human trafficking leave their homeland due to poverty, lack of job opportunities, experiences with sexual violence, and general hopelessness concerning their situation. Many women are persuaded by pretended trustworthy recruiters and believe in the promise of a better life abroad. Other women are aware that they will be working in the sex industry before they arrive in Germany. Both groups, however, can be misled regarding the real living and working conditions that await them.

As soon as the women arrive in Germany, they are caught in a web of lies and threats. Often uprooted and penniless, they come into an unknown country where they don’t understand the language, and in which they have no dependable relationships to fall back on. Under threat and/or use of violence, their work force is exploited, they experience sexual heteronomy, and some are even forced into prostitution.

The Market Laws of Human Right Violations

New developments in the prostitution market that go along with new forms of human trafficking, violence and exploitation pose significant challenge at present. The expansion of the European Union (EU) to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus (2004), as well as Bulgaria and Romania (2007) mobilized people in these countries to search for work outside their country. The forceful, economic transformation process in Central and Eastern European countries are often accompanied by large-scale unemployment, the impoverishment of a large percentage of the population, and the reduction of social services. In some countries there is significant economic development. Yet in such situations, women are often on the losing end. Therefore many young women place their hope in economic possibilities in Western European countries. A number of those are willing to work in prostitution in order to secure their livelihood, and Germany seems to be an attractive place in which to do so.

Many of these women are aware that they are going to work in the prostitution when they arrive in Germany. Although this is legally possible (according to the prostitution and immigration legislation), they are seldom able to work in a self-determined manner. More often, they are controlled and exploited by procurers and trafficking networks.

Remarkable phenomena concerning prostitution:

  • Increasingly, women from new EU-countries provide services in the sex industry.
  • These women are often young and inexperienced.
  • The lack of professionalism (lack of knowledge on health care, etc.) is symptomatic.
  • Control and exploitation often occurs through third-party networks of traffickers, pimps, and alleged friends.
  • There is a significant mobility and fluctuation within
  • Women often reside and work in Germany legally, and some are even registered with the internal revenue office.

Hidden Shackles

Due to lack of alternatives (such as employment, among other things), but also due to extensive dependency structures and intimidating situations, these women are not ready or able to free themselves from their exploitative situation. Therefore they are not willing to cooperate or to testify to the police as (potential) prostitution victims, which hinders the disclosure and disestablishment of the structures of force and exploitation.

It is a huge challenge for the police as well as for the counseling center dealing with human trafficking to reach these groups in order to promote prevention, victim protection and achieve the perpetrators’ prosecution.

Since the women concerned have the legal right to reside and work in Germany (EU freedom of movement) and present themselves as autonomous and independent persons when in contact with the police, it is difficult to find a starting point to gain access to them.

Due to this recent development, FIM considers it necessary not only to continue the actual work, but also to develop new creative and effective forms of how to reach out groups of women facing such difficulties.

The fight against voodoo

The situation of african victims of human trafficking remains difficult. In many cases the counselling centre is hardly able to gain the trust of the affected women. The disclosure of the human trafficking circles, especially the gathering of statements of witnesses remains a big challenge for the police.

FIM is often confronted with the fears resulting from voodoo rituals that bind the women to the human traffickers. In this regard FIM is in contact with chaplains and representatives of Christian churches.

Estimated number of unreported cases

All forms of trafficking in human beings present the difficulty that crimes of abuse are often only discovered/identified by the police. Experts estimate, therefore, a high number of unknown cases related to human trafficking. Criminal prosecution is difficult and complex. The victims, who are important witnesses in the prosecution, are therefore absolutely vital to all trials. However many victims are hesitant to make a statement out of fear of the perpetrators and mistrust in the police. In addition to that, the victims are often traumatised and therefore not able to participate in a trial.

You can find us here

FIM - Frauenrecht ist Menschenrecht e.V.
Counselling Center for Migrant Women and
their Families
Varrentrappstraße 55
60486 Frankfurt am Main

Telephone +49 (0)69 9709797-0
Telefax +49 (0)69 9709797-18
E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. 

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Your way to our center

From the central railway station (Hauptbahnhof) Frankfurt am Main: Tram 16 (Ginnheim) or Tram 17 (Rebstockbad), get off at „Varrentrappstraße“


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