NEWS

Protection for sufferers of sexual exploitation

The Athens branch of the anti-trafficking squad, which went into action in December, recently uncovered one of the largest human-trafficking gangs ever. Deputy police chief Vassilis Daskalakis, head of the vice department, said it was most important for the victims of these gangs to realize that the new legal framework provided them with protection, enabling them to speak freely and to press charges against those exploiting them. Psychologists and social workers are on hand during the investigation to provide moral and practical support. A brochure providing information to victims, in 14 languages, is available at all police stations, detailing protection measures and the legal penalties imposed against the gangs exploiting them. The victims’ lives and personal safety are protected as well as their freedom of movement. Accommodation, food and medical attention is also provided. Juveniles are given assistance in entering the educational system, and those under 23 are given assistance to apply for technical and professional training programs via the state employment organization (OAED). In recent years, human trafficking has been on the increase. In 2000, police discovered 272 cases, in 2001 there were 440; the same year 54 gangs were broken up that were found to have preyed on 165 victims. In 2002 police broke up another 64 gangs that had ensnared 184 victims. Between October 2002, when the new law came into force, and October 2003, police dealt with 475 cases, involving 195 victims.