chapter  6
21 Pages

Human trafficking in the Baltic Sea region: Supply, demand, and organized crime


Taking its starting point in the argument that one of the main causes of human trafficking is the supply and demand for inter alia sexual services and illicit labor, this chapter explores how prostitution and human trafficking have developed in the Baltic Sea region since 1991, paying special attention to the socioeconomic situation of the Russian-speaking minority and gender discrimination on the labor market in Estonia and Latvia. Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Latvia are included in this study. The issues faced by Estonia, Latvia, Finland, and Sweden are interrelated and cannot be resolved in isolation,1 hence the quest for a regional approach. As we shall see, the feminization of poverty and the socioeconomic marginalization of the Russianspeaking minority in Estonia and Latvia contribute heavily to the supply side. This chapter also shows that trafficking in humans is organized to a varying degree. The general trend, which the Baltic Sea region is not isolated from, is that global organized criminal networks are moving their positions forward by joining forces and integrating into new markets. For the purpose of this chapter, human trafficking is defined as stipulated by the Protocol on Human Trafficking supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Focus will be on human trafficking for sexual purposes. Although trade in human beings for forced labor is not an unknown phenomena, there is no information at this point suggesting that it is a widespread problem in the region, Kaliningrad Oblast excluded. The same applies to involuntary organ donation.2