Prostitutes in Malta exposed to life of vice well before becoming adults

Farrugia Portelli calls for multi-agency approach to ensure that victims of human trafficking are safeguarded

Parliamentary secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli
Parliamentary secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli

The parliamentary secretary for reforms Julia Farrugia Portelli has called for a multi-agency approach to ensure that victims of human trafficking are safeguarded and that all legal measures to fight traffickers can be deployed.

Farrugia Portelli was addressing a seminar on human trafficking, following the launch of a national awareness campaign to help trafficking victims be identified by the general public.

Farrugia Portelli, said she hopes to create one single entity to fight human trafficking in Malta. “The government is determined to eradicate this modern-day slavery. I don’t think we have the problems other countries are facing. Nevertheless, one victim is enough to warrant action.”

The government was currently meeting various stakeholders to identify the way forward in tackling this crime. “We acknowledge that teenage girls will be exposed to prostitution in Malta before adulthood. It is important to raise awareness of human trafficking especially with people who are more likely to become victims,” Farrugia Portelli said.

Home affairs minister Michael Farrugia, who also addressed the meeting, stressed on the difference between the smuggling of migrants, and human trafficking.

He said migrants consent to their smuggling, and that often there is no element of distortion or coercion apart from possible payments that smugglers expect.

“The smuggler does not often exploit these persons and the relationship with the migrants ends after the latter reach their desired destination,” Farrugia said, while traffickers usually have secret reasons behind their movement of persons. 

“Traffickers use deception and fraud to exploit people for various reasons. This doesn’t just occur in Third World countries. It occurs within member states of the EU, where Romania, for example, registers the highest number of persons trafficked,” he said. 

Foreign minister Carmelo Abela said 24 million people were victims of human trafficking every year and that traffickers continue to target vulnerable women and children.  “Malta will continue to uphold its commitment with the Council of Europe’s Convention of Action Against the Trafficking of Human Beings and with the United Nations,” he said, adding that he recently met with the UNODOC executive director Yury Fedotov to discuss Malta’s intention to join the Blue Heart Campaign. 

The Blue Heart Campaign is an international anti-trafficking program started by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.