Fight Against Trafficking in Women: Intervention Center Established

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: May 5, 2022; 16:15 ♦ (Vindobona)

To combat sexual exploitation of children and women from Ukraine, the Federal Criminal Police Office recently set up a hotline where those affected can report. In recent weeks, the number of people seeking protection, mostly women and children, had increased enormously, providing easy game for human traffickers and increasing the risk of human trafficking, smuggling, sexual exploitation and coercion into prostitution.

Interior Minister Gerhard Karner considers the human trafficking hotline an very important step. / Picture: © BMI Bundesministerium für Inneres / Jürgen Makowecz

In recent weeks, the war in Ukraine has caused an enormous movement of refugees towards Western Europe. As Vindobona already reported, it is mainly women and children who are leaving the country and seeking protection in other European countries.

The explosion of women traveling alone increases the risk of human trafficking, smuggling, sexual exploitation and coercion into prostitution for displaced women and children from Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Minister of Women's Affairs and Integration Susanne Raab and Minister of the Interior Gerhard Karner visited the Intervention Center for Trafficking in Women, which is run by the LEFÖ association, and got an idea of the prevention work that is done there every day.

"Due to the terrible war in Ukraine, human traffickers and criminals now have an easy game. We have to do everything in prevention to inform women where the dangers lurk. For those affected, there is already information material translated into Ukrainian in Austria, such as folders and posters, which the Intervention Center against Trafficking in Women distributes," says Minister for Women and Integration Susanne Raab.

Police cooperation is also of great importance and there is a close exchange with the Ministry of the Interior.

Human trafficking hotline established

The Federal Criminal Police Office has set up a hotline that can be contacted if there are any tips about suspected cases.

Likewise, every arriving protection seeker in Austria receives information sheets upon arrival, which include the telephone number and mail address of the hotline.

"The human trafficking hotline of the Federal Criminal Police Office is an important measure in the fight against organized crime. Due to the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, prevention against human trafficking is more significant than ever. The close networking between police officers, the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Intervention Center against Trafficking in Women is a key factor here and of decisive importance," said Gerhard Karner.

For women and children from Ukraine, the Intervention Center against Trafficking in Women has set acute measures. On the one hand, nationwide outreach work in the digital space has been massively strengthened - so women can always be reached via social media and informed about the dangers of human trafficking, regardless of their current location.

Additionally, this ensures low-threshold access to counseling and protection. On the other hand, there is the information campaign "Be safe on the way", which - translated into Ukrainian and English - warns against human trafficking along with references to existing assistance services.

The Intervention Center for Trafficking in Women was increased by 50 percent of its budget with the implementation of the Violence Protection Package as of October 2021. Half of the funding comes from the Federal Ministry of the Interior and half from the Ministry of Women's Affairs.

Federal Chancellery of Austria

BMI - Ministry of the Interior - Bundesministerium fuer Inneres