Trends in Organized Crime

, 14:125 | Cite as

Determinants of the willingness to make a statement of victims of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation in the triangle offender–police–victim

  • Cornelia Helfferich
  • Barbara Kavemann
  • Heike Rabe
  • Project Management BKA Wiesbaden: Claudia Toll, Gerhard Flach
Article

Abstract

An important precondition for improving the prosecution of offences relating to human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is the promotion of victims’ willingness to make a witness statement. In a qualitative study, “Determinants of the willingness to make a statement of victims of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation pursuant to section 232 of the Penal Code”, carried out in 2008/09 in Germany by the Institute for Social Research on Women (Sozialwissenschaftliches FrauenForschungsInstitut) in Freiburg on behalf of the Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt), Germany, 53 victims were interviewed. From a social science perspective, factors were identified which are of subjective relevance for the victims, influencing their willingness to cooperate with the police and to testify against traffickers in court. The factors were related to offender strategies (e. g. violence, deception), to police action (e. g. checks, interrogations) or to the person of the victim herself (e.g. residence status, migration goals, language, attitude towards prostitution). After a description of these single factors by means of qualitative content analysis in two further steps the analysis focused rather more on the context of the situation as a triangle of trafficker, police and victim as the main actors. In a second step, the willingness to make a statement could be related to the specific co-action especially of pressure from trafficker or pimp not to make a statement and action on the side of the police. This specific co-action depends on whether the victims have or do not have a legal residence status. Third, as a key for a better understanding how the situation on a more general level is subjectively perceived by the victim in terms of power relations, this context of interaction was reconstructed by hermeneutic conversation analysis, putting attention to the semantic construction of agency and power. The willingness to make a statement can be seen as result e.g. from the construction of an “almighty” trafficker and a police that is helpless to fight trafficking and to create a sense of security. For the last two steps the “shared space of action” (Voβ) is introduced as a theoretical framework to conceptualize the emergence of the willingness to make a statement from the interaction of pressures against and in favour of a witness statement and as a “coproduction” of three (and possibly more, including lawyers, staff of counseling services and shelters, new partners etc.) interacting actors. This leads to conclusions, how the willingness to make a statement can be improved.

Keywords

Human trafficking Sexual exploitation Victimization 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cornelia Helfferich
    • 1
  • Barbara Kavemann
    • 1
  • Heike Rabe
    • 1
  • Project Management BKA Wiesbaden: Claudia Toll, Gerhard Flach
  1. 1.Sozialwissenschaftliches FrauenForschungsInstitut Freiburg (SoFFI F.)FreiburgGermany

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