European Network Against Trafficking in Human Beings

New publication

Trafficking in Women and Children for Sexual Exploitation

Document number
Trafficking in Women and Children for Sexual Exploitation
Center for Transition and Civil Society Research, International Organization for Migration (IOM)
LSI library
Document type(s)
Croatia, Sexual exploitation, Human trafficking, Women, Victims (of Trafficking), Trafficked persons, Sex industry, Prostitution
The report suggests that trafficking in Croatia is more serious than fragmentary and incomplete official data indicates. Statistics on illegal crossings into Croatia show a constant increase over the last five years, with no attempt made to distinguish smuggled from trafficked persons. Despite this, Croatia is generally considered to be a transit country for trafficked women on their way to Western Europe. According to data from the Croatian Ministry of Interior (MOI), the percentage of trafficked women and children is very small compared to other types of criminal activity. From 1998 to 2000, only five criminal offences were reported relating to Article 175 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Croatia (Establishment of Slavery and the Transport of Slaves) and 21 offences relating to Article 178 (International Prostitution). The data indicates that Italy is the main country of destination for female victims of trafficking after they leave Croatia. The report reveals that victims of trafficking from Moldova, Romania and Ukraine are sold to Croatian traffickers at "collecting centres" located in Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina. One such centre is the "Arizona market"; a huge unregulated market situated near the border between Croatia and FRY. A similar market also exists in Bihac, near Bosanski Petrovac. Trafficking in Croatia has changed significantly during the last decade. In the first half of the 90s, trafficking was concentrated in Zagreb and its surroundings. The main and possibly the sole trafficking route was from Hungary to Zagreb. Trafficked women were mainly employed in nightclubs and bars on the outskirts of the capital. This first phase was abruptly ended by a series of raids in 1996-1997. In the later half of the 90s, several routes from Bosnia and Herzegovina replaced the Hungarian connection. Trafficking networks also became more geographically dispersed. The business spread to tourist towns and places frequented by military personnel. The most recent trend seems to be seasonal or temporary employment of women trafficked from Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as wider international sex tourism. No single official strategy or response to trafficking. Interviews with police officers revealed that some tended to ignore or minimise the extent of the problem whilst others did not recognise trafficking as a serious issue. All said corruption, lack of training and resources, and the absence of a clear and decisive plan of action hindered any policing attempt. The report recommends a policy change based on efficient policing and on providing assistance to trafficked individuals.
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