[WATCH] Malta steps up anti-trafficking awareness with ‘Human, Like You’ campaign

Real-life stories will convey reality of human trafficking and how to spot victims in forced labour and sex slavery in Malta

Julia Farrugia Portelli on Human Trafficking campaign

The Maltese government has launched a nationwide awareness campaign against human trafficking, in a bid to bring to light the realities of force labour, sexual slavery and commercial sexual exploitation in Malta.

‘Human Like You’ will educate people on the different forms of human trafficking in society, with educational campaigns highlighting real-life cases, how they happen and how one can prevent them.

“People think it’s only illegal immigration and sex work, but there is more to human trafficking than we think,” Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms Julia Farrugia said.

At the forefront of the campaign is a newly launched website which features real stories of people who were the victims of human trafficking. 

Farrugia Portelli said that it is the government’s obligation to create a collective consciousness among people. “The mentality of human trafficking being something beyond our shores is mistaken,” she said. 

Globally around 800,000 people are victims of human trafficking, yet only 45,000 cases are identified every year. At least 71% of the victims are women. A representative from the International Organization for Migration said that the latter statistic should be taken with a pinch of salt, due to the large misconception that human trafficking involves only sex work purposes.

Julia Farrugia Portelli also said that today’s smugglers had more resources and tools to work with, making the government’s efforts to combat the abuse a more pressing concern. 

A consultation process on human trafficking will be undertaken by the government, putting at the forefront the people’s views and opinions on the issues. “When the consultation process is complete, we will go back to people with viable solutions,” the parliamentary secretary said.  

Farrugia Portelli said the government, through internal structuring, wants to consolidate its efforts on the problem. While some victims of human trafficking would prefer to leave the country when their abusers are apprehended, others would wish to stay here. Farrugia Portelli said that through the reform, when a victim is identified as being one, work permit application fees are waved off, making the integration back into society a much easier process. “The government has allocated more resources towards the issue, making sure the safe-guarding and protection of victims is a priority,” Farrugia Portelli said. 

Following the United States’ State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report, Malta was identified as being a ‘source and destination’ country for trafficked individuals. 

“We have discussed the reports with the American government, and while we have raised our concerns on points which we felt were unfair against us, such reports should serve as the basis for our work towards tackling the problem,” Farrugia Portelli said. 

The newly launched campaign website can be accessed on: https://trafficking.gov.mt/en