OSLO, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- The number of children who are exploited in human trafficking in Norway has increased as more minor asylum seekers came to the Nordic country, daily newspaper VG reported on Tuesday.
Out of the 301 human trafficking cases in 2015, 14 percent were minor victims, which is 3 percent more than in the previous year, according to a report by the Coordination Unit for Victims of Human Trafficking (KOM) in the Police Directorate.
"This can be regarded in connection with the drastic increase of single minor asylum seekers who came to Norway in 2015. In an increased immigration wave there will be higher risk for exploitation of vulnerable migrants, specially single minors," said Julie Platou Kvammen, a senior adviser of the KOM.
Kvammen, who made the report that concludes human trafficking is a significant problem in Norway, said that minors are extra vulnerable since they come alone and can easier attach themselves to adults that appear as caregivers.
"We find that they can be sexually exploited or pressed to, for example, sell narcotics or steal for traffickers. Children can also be exploited in other forms of human trafficking such as in forced labour in cleaning or car wash industry," she said, adding that both the European Police Office (Europol) and the European Union (EU) have warned against increased human trafficking as a result of the refugee crisis.
"This is a problem all around Europe and it is often closely connected to human smuggling when victims can end up in human trafficking because they cannot pay the debt they have due to their escape to Europe," Kvammen said. "We assume that there have been, and still are, big dark statistic figures when it comes to cases of human trafficking where children are involved."
The report also shows that women make the majority of cases victims and that 68 percent of last year's cases were about female victims.
"Eighty-six percent of the cases with female victims are connected to prostitution and other sexual purposes. Men and boys are mainly exploited in force labour and force services," Kvammen said.
"Many women come to the country with a promise that they will get a job, as a waitress for example, but then they come to a situation that involves prostitution where traffickers force them to sell themselves out in the street," she said. "Other women know in advance that they will be prostitutes, but are exploited by not being paid, getting worse conditions than agreed and are under traffickers' control."
The senior adviser also said that not all the victims in the human trafficking cases are physically controlled as some of them can be relatively free and not closed in an apartment as it is easily believed.
Traffickers can be in home country and still hold the victims under mental control when they threatens the victims with violence against their family members if they do not send the money.
Kvammen noted that human trafficking is a hidden crime that is often difficult to reveal.
"The victims often cannot, will not or do not dare to report the traffickers. This is, among other things, due to the fear of reprisals from traffickers or fear of being sent back to their home country. Moreover, they can be instructed by the traffickers not to cooperate with the Norwegian authorities," she said.
Kvammen added that it is difficult to say exactly how big the problem is in Norway, but that it can be absolutely confirmed that the figures are big in connection to this "cynical crime where the traffickers exploit people that are already in a vulnerable situation."
Kvammen noted that the report does not show that this crime will subside and more efforts should be made to prevent it.
"The way the world is today, specially regarding the refugee wave, I do not believe this will be a smaller problem than before. That is why it is so important that the responsible authorities, organizations and other in the society increase knowledge about this phenomena," Kvammen said.
"We need an increased competence in preventing human trafficking, as well as revealing and investigating more cases," she added. Enditem