Prostitution connected with trafficking is common in Iceland, according to the results of Heiða Björk Vignisdóttir’s 2014 Master’s thesis in law on the connections of prostitution and trafficking with organized crime in Iceland. Fréttablaðið has been covering the issue of trafficking in Iceland in recent weeks and reported on the results of Heiða’s thesis yesterday.
Prostitution thrives in Iceland and is in many cases connected with trafficking, Heiða writes in her thesis. There are examples of both women of foreign origin who have come, or been brought, to Iceland to engage in prostitution as well as Icelandic women who have become victims of trafficking. The human traffickers are both Icelandic and foreign and often have connections with organized crime abroad, Heiða writes.
“There is much more prostitution here than the average person realizes. Foreign women are sent here. There is also more demand for prostitution than there is supply,” she writes.
There has been increasing awareness in recent years of the fact that trafficking exists here in Iceland as it does elsewhere. Around the year 2000, up to 1,000 foreign women came to Iceland to work in strip clubs. “It is not a coincidence that many of these places closed when private dancing was banned,” Heiða argues.
In many cases it is very difficult to prove that trafficking has taken place and victims are usually not activity involved in informing authorities about the issue because they have been threatened, been made to believe that they have committed an offense or come from countries where it is difficult to trust the police.
There are examples of victims of trafficking having been imprisoned here in Iceland because of false documents. They admit to having been in possession of false documents but choose not to tell their stories out of fear, visir.is reports.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which publishes a report on trafficking every two years, women and girls make up 75 percent of the people trafficked worldwide. According to the European Parliament, 62 percent of trafficking victims are sold into sexual slavery, 96 percent of whom are women and girls.
In writing her thesis, Heiða interviewed trafficking experts and referred to existing legislation, case law and reports by Icelandic and foreign scholars.