This paper summarizes the most important recommendations of the study "Context and extent of traffic in foreign girls women," carried out by Dr. D. Heine-Wiedenmann and Dr. Lea Ackermann for the Federal Ministry for Women and Youth.
Five years ago publications began to appear on the problem of sex tourism in developing countries. Serious studies give an insight into the typical situation in which women from developing countries are forced into prostitution. The topic has also moved into the public consciousness. Even the tabloid press have given it coverage. Unfortunately, it often seems that the topic is being looked at to feed a craving for scandal or voyeurism. Many reports deepen prejudices about women's sexuality which are discriminatory to women and degrading or they give insider tips disguised as articles on the problem of sex tourism.
Now that the extent and the processes of trafficking in human beings have been recognized, it is all the more important to take appropriate steps and implement both preventive measures as well as effective measures to close loopholes in the law.
Sex tourism, shady marriage brokering and trafficking in human beings go hand in hand and are mutually dependent. In order to overcome this problem with its manifold causes, the authors Dr. D. Heine-Wiedenmann and Dr. Lea Ackermann divide up their catalogue of demands to correspond with the three categories of problems. The measures recommended should be carried out simultaneously to create a strategy which is as effective as possible.
The demands are:
1. Sex tourism should be restricted by
- Cooperation with tour operators and airlines. In practice that means removing hotels explicitly geared to prostitution from the travel brochures and removing advertising photographs which are degrading to women.
- Setting up women's projects designed for very specific target groups which should be supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation.
2. To enable better checks on the work of shady marriage agencies the following recommendations are made:
- Mandatory licensing should be introduced for marriage agencies which set up contacts with foreign women.
- All matrimonial and dating agencies should be obliged to inform the aliens registration authorities and the Federal Border Guard of the arrival of foreign women in the country for marriage purposes.
- Commercial agencies working beyond national borders should be banned or placed under the responsibility and control of charitable organizations.
- To protect the women, entry into the country for marriage should be permitted only upon producing of a permanent visa.
- The women concerned should be advised in their home countries of the risks of marriages arranged by commercial agencies.
- A general amnesty coupled with a limited residence permit should be issued for foreign women living illegally in Germany and thus in a situation where they are open to blackmail.
- Due to the clearly diverging evaluations of the contraventions against Article 92 of the Aliens Act, the legislative powers should clarify in what framework these contraventions should be prosecuted in the future and whether in view of other acts of trafficking in human beings a penalty under criminal law (instead of under administrative law which is the case at present) would not be more advantageous.
- Closer cooperation and provision of mutual information between police, aliens registration authorities and the trade supervisory authorities about criminal marriage brokering is urgently recommended.
- In cases of separation or divorce of a binational marriage and where the foreign women are faced with the threat of deportation, the case should be reviewed even before the three year mandatory period is over to establish whether it is a case of hardship. This hardship regulation could be an effective instrument against possible human rights violations.
- It would be expedient for women's organizations to have the right to take legal action against immoral advertising for dating agencies or adverts for women in a way comparable to the consumer organizations.
3. In order effectively to combat trafficking in human beings:
- Cooperation and harmonization of activities between the criminal investigation department and the offices for public law and order should be intensified, and
- consideration should be given to liberalizing and decriminalizing prostitution.
In introducing and implementing the above measures the lot would fall particularly to the legal system, the police and offices for public law and order, aliens registration authorities and public health authorities. Dr. D. Heinemann and Dr. L. Ackermann point out that these authorities themselves need to introduce improvements in attitude and organization in order to combat the trafficking with girls and women.
On the basis of their experience within the legal system, the authors particularly recommended changing Article 181 of the Penal Code. An amendment of Article 181 has in the meantime been undertaken. A detailed comment on this amendment can be found in the texts of Mr. Schulte (Federal Ministry of Justice) and Mr. Schwerdtfeger (State Criminal Office of Düsseldorf). Both consider, however, that it is not yet possible to pass definitive judgement on this amendment.
The authors of the study further advise that:
- Women should on no account be deported immediately after being questioned by judges. As the cases researched by the authors show, this questioning by judges is not sufficient. Material which is subsequently evaluated can no longer be presented to the witnesses. In addition to this, the deported women can rarely reenter the country for the trial as they have usually gone into hiding in their home country. This is often used as a pretext for closing the case.
- In the case of witnesses not being present at the trial the judges' cross-examination of the women should be read out even if the defence counsel protests.
- The women concerned should be accommodated in charitable institutions until a decision is taken on whether they are to be deported. Coordination between the public prosecutor's office and the aliens registration authority could make it possible for the women's stay in the country to be tolerated until the end of the trial. This is already being practised in Lower Saxony. These women who are the victims of trafficking in human beings should not be put on remand pending deportation.
- There should be a clear separation of functions, i.e. the women should be questioned as witnesses and not be simultaneously prosecuted on the grounds of illegal entry into the country or prostitution.
- The treatment of witnesses in court should be improved. The accused and the victims should not have to wait in the same room before the trial begins. Similarly, the accused should not be present when the judges are questioning the victim.
- It should be ensured that the women are given full and precise information, including advice of their rights to bring incidental action as victims of trafficking in human life and of their rights of access to a lawyer.
- Under the Protection of Victims Act financial support for the victim from the convicted party should be granted as compensation.
The following organizational changes would assist the implementation and amplification of the above recommendations:
- Only public prosecutors specialized in cases of traffic in human beings and with relevant experience should be appointed.
- The proceedings should be handled by one public prosecutor as part of a collective procedure. He or she should at the same time present the case at the trial.
- In court cases concerning trafficking in human beings the public prosecutors should not change in midtrial because this could have a negative effect on the trial.
For the police's area of competence it is asked that:
- Local criminal investigation departments have better financial and staff resources to deal with sexual offences. Because of sometimes complicated investigations abroad, offences of trafficking in human beings also fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Criminal Police Office and those of the federal states. Only in exceptional cases should they be dealt with by local police forces and then by special units. In addition to this, each federal agency should have specialists in trafficking in human beings available whom it can call upon to give advice in a flexible manner about new procedures of trafficking in human beings.
- Training courses dealing with trafficking in human beings and organized crime should be provided.
- Close cooperation and harmonization of efforts between special units dealing with trafficking in human beings and the criminal investigation departments should take place during investigations.
- Exchange of information between criminal investigation departments, aliens registration authorities and women's counselling centres should be expanded.
© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-bibliothek | 12.1. 1998