Human Trafficking during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting the world under enormous pressure, affecting everyone's lives. The unprecedented measures taken to flatten the infection curve include forced quarantine, curfews and lockdowns, travel restrictions and limitations on economic activities and public life. At first glance, these enforcement measures and the increased police presence at the borders and on the streets seem to deter crime.

In Human Trafficking, criminals are adjusting their business models to the 'new normal' created by the pandemic, especially the abuse of modern communication technologies. At the same time, COVID-19 impacts the capacity of state authorities and non-governmental organizations to provide essential services to victims of such crime.

Most importantly, the pandemic has increased and put on the spot inequalities that are deep and inherent aspects of Human Trafficking

The Victims

Identifying victims of trafficking is difficult, even under normal conditions and circumstances. The main reasons include the fact that victims are often exploited in illegal, informal, or unregulated sectors (e.g., petty crime, the sex industry, domestic environments, drug trafficking and cultivation, agriculture and construction); the ability to organize crime to hide its operations in plain sight; victims' own unwillingness or inability to report their victimization; and limited law enforcement capabilities to detect this crime.