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Friday 29 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
# sex trafficking
Children are being trafficked into Ireland by their own families for exploitation by the sex trade
The majority of the ringleaders of child trafficking into the EU are female according to Europol.

shutterstock_645078022 Shutterstock File picture Shutterstock

IRELAND IS BEING used as a destination for child sex slaves, according to the EU’s policing agency.

A new report by Europol shows that international criminal groups, particularly from Nigeria, are using established trafficking networks and the cover afforded by the migrant crisis to smuggle minors into northern European countries like Ireland  for sale into the sex trade and other criminal enterprises.

The report details the testimony involved in more than 600 cases concerning the trafficking of underage victims within EU member states between 2015 and 2017.

It details the ‘particularly harmful’ EU crime networks of ‘large family clans’ which traffic children for the purposes of begging, criminality and sexual exploitation, with those clans operating in multiple countries at any one time and rotating their victims on a regular basis.

All told, 268 cases of trafficking with minor victims involved for the purposes of exploitation were documented, with 985 victims identified and 3,642 suspects detailed.

34 of those cases involved minor victims exclusively.

In the case of children, the role of the family is particularly stark, with people engaging in the trafficking and exploitation of their own children.

“Exploited children in vulnerable situations deserve to be protected more than anyone else,” said Catherine De Bolle, executive director of Europol in light of the report’s publication.

“Together with EU member states, we will build on the finding of this report to better support future investigative actions at both national and EU-level against trafficking of the weakest social category of all – vulnerable children,” she said.

The majority of the cases reported to Europol involved Nigerian gangs trafficking young girls for the purposes of sexual exploitation, while female suspects play a far greater role in the trafficking of children into the EU than in the case of adult victims.

Other countries detailed for their involvement include the organised crime gangs of Vietnam and Albanian-speaking networks.

In the case of the Nigerian gangs, southern EU countries such as Italy and Spain are used as the main entry port for the trafficked children, who are then shuttled between networks to destination points in countries like Ireland where they are forced into prostitution.

Other countries where victims have been located include Austria, Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the UK.

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