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Behind the screens: Analysis of human trafficking victims’ abuse in digital surroundings

Behind the screens: Analysis of human trafficking victims’ abuse in digital surroundings

Behind the screens: Analysis of human trafficking victims’ abuse in digital surroundings

For organisation Atina, it is of utmost importance that the voices of girls and women with the experience of trafficking are heard. And not only heard but understood and appreciated as well. That is why we created this document Behind the screens: Analysis of human trafficking victims’ abuse in digital surroundings, which includes experiences of 178 girls and women who were using Atina’s support and protection programs in the period from 2015 until 2020.[1] Such a number of respondents in the field of human trafficking victims’ protection is an extremely important sample, and it should be noted that data collection process was marked by exceptional motivation of these girls and women to participate in it. It is also important to point out that this analysis was carried out during the pandemic, when a large part of global communication moved to the digital space, and the risks of violence and exploitation increased.

The results of this analysis confirm high prevalence of abuse in digital surroundings these girls and women have been exposed to prior, during and after the trafficking situation. Specifically, 42% of respondents survived some form of digital violence (such as cyberbullying, vengeful distribution of explicit/pornographic content, impersonation, etc.), while for 31% of them digital violence was directly related to the trafficking situation, both for the purpose of recruitment and exploitation. Of the total number of respondents, 65% were also exposed to digital threats, which were most often aimed at intimidation in order to change or withdraw a testimony or statement in criminal proceedings (a total of 59%). In addition to the high frequency of violence in a digital sphere, the analysis also shows that this specific type of violence has become an almost indispensable form of coercion used by perpetrators of violence and traffickers to blackmail, threaten, belittle the victims, unauthorizedly record, or distribute pornographic material including children. In this regard, the purpose of the analysis is to prevent digital abuse from becoming a “new normal” and a phenomenon to which the public, due to its frequency, becomes indifferent to, under the slogan – virtual is less real, and therefore less important.

Read more here.

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