Forms of human trafficking and exploitation

Around 49.6 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking. It affects women and girls as well as men and boys, with the numbers varying greatly depending on the type of exploitation. According to the 2020 UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) report, 92% of identified victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation are women and girls; when it comes to labour exploitation, 59% of victims are men and boys.  


Common forms of human trafficking and exploitation in Switzerland are:

sexual exploitation – encouraging prostitution 

We speak of sexual exploitation or encouraging prostitution  when someone restricts the freedom of action of a person working in prostitution, determines how he or she must pursue his or her activity in detail, or forces him or her to engage in unwanted practices. It may also be that a third person makes false promises to the person concerned in order to force him or her into prostitution after their arrival. All these acts are punishable by law. 

Exploitation according to the Loverboy method

«Loverboys» pretend to be the great love of their victims and then systematically make them dependent on themselves with the aim of exploiting them. Most often the victims are forced into  prostitution or required  to engage in criminal activities. Among the victims are girls and boys as well as young adults. It can affect foreigners as well as Swiss nationals. Leading minors (under 18 years old) into prostitution is punishable.  (read more)

labour exploitation

Victims of labour exploitation are sometimes not aware that they are being exploited. Besides a (very) low wage, the lack of residence and work permits as well as work contracts or an isolated workplace may indicate a situation of exploitation. It also happens that the person concerned, has to hand over their identity and travel documents to the perpetrators, does not know exactly where he or she is or has to pay back large amounts of imaginary debt to an alleged placement agency in the country of origin.

Exploitation in (organised) begging

Children, adolescents and adults from abroad regularly appear in Swiss cities as beggars and street musicians. In rural areas they sometimes go from house to house to beg. The money they collect is taken away by backers. The victims themselves usually only receive food, drinks and a place to sleep. 

Forced marriages

The free choice of a spouse is a human right. Nevertheless, in Switzerland too, women and men are forced into marriage against their will. Forced marriage is a violation of human rights, which is associated with kinship and transnational elements. Forced marriage is a criminal offence in Switzerland.

For those affected, it is difficult to get out of these exploitative situations on their own. You can help. Contact us in case of suspicion.