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Deaf Victims of Human Trafficking?

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Deaf Victims of Human Trafficking?

Deaf

The international deafness and hard-of-hearing symbol. Photo: Wikipedia

Police in the Greater Reykjavík area are investigating allegations of human trafficking in connection with the Icelandic Association of the Deaf. Last week, Vísir reported that an investigation was underway regarding a Russian woman who was hired to sell lottery tickets for the association. The woman has been staying at the Women’s Shelter in Reykjavík since the allegations were made.

The police investigation now focuses on finding out whether there are other victims involved. Snorri Birgisson, head of the police’s human trafficking division wouldn’t confirm that the company involved is the Association of the Deaf, but Daði Hreinsson, CEO of the association has admitted that the association is being investigated. Daði maintains the woman came here of her own free will and rejected suggestions that she was a victim of human trafficking.

Snorri remarked, “The investigation is going well. We’re still taking reports from witnesses and others, connected to it in one way or another.”

The case involves a staff member of the association who is in charge of fundraising. For a period of time, he has brought people to the country from Eastern Europe in order to sell lottery tickets, which make up the bulk of fundraising.

Vísir reported that the woman came to Iceland twice and was charged USD 1,000 upon arrival, supposedly for a work permit. Daði claimed the amount was not taken away from the woman, but that the deposit was required by the Russian embassy. A staff member at the embassy asserted that no such rules existed.

Sources tell Fréttablaðið that no work permit was ever applied for on the woman’s behalf, and that it was made sure she stayed no longer than three months at a time in the country. She arrived in Iceland in March and earned about ISK 20,000 (USD 160, EUR 143) for her work. Typically, salespeople receive 25 percent of lottery ticket proceeds. She, on the other hand, received only 15 percent, but got free room and board from the man who hired her.

The woman was hungry and tired when police took her under their wing.

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