Trafficking in women
Trafficking in human beings is a serious violation of human rights that predominantly affects women and girls. Women who are being trafficked usually come from destitute or politically unstable circumstances. Unable to earn a livelihood for themselves and their families in their native countries, they are lured abroad with false promises such as job offers or marriage prospects, or are forcibly abducted. Upon entry into the country of destination, their documents are usually taken away, making it almost impossible for them to escape.
Through restriction of freedom, threats against the women themselves and/or their families etc., they are kept from turning to the police. Unless affected persons are recognised as victims of human trafficking, when apprehended they must also expect to be deported to their country of origin, which also prevents them from trusting the authorities.
However, victims of human trafficking are eligible for a "special protection" residence permit (Aufenthaltsbewilligung – besonderer Schutz) that must be granted ex officio or upon request provided that this is necessary for prosecuting the culprits or for asserting the victim's civil law claims. Such residence permits may also be granted on the grounds of individual circumstances that necessitate special protection for the woman concerned.
The Intervention Centre for Trafficked Women provides comprehensive advice and support for women who are forced to prostitution or were lured to Austria through marriage trade or trade in domestic servants, and are now forced to live in conditions of blatant exploitation.
Numerous bilateral agreements on police cooperation also include the combating of human trafficking. Such interdepartmental or even intergovernmental agreements have been concluded in particular with Austria's neighbouring states, the successor states of former Yugoslavia and a number of other East European states, as well as several African, Asian and American states.
On the EU and international level, important legal regulations have been worked out (recommendations, framework resolutions, conventions etc.), among others the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings that was ratified by Austria in 2006 and the EU-Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims of 5 April 2011.
Human Trafficking Task Force
The "Human Trafficking Task Force (Task Force Menschenhandel)" – an interministerial working group under the chairmanship of the Foreign Ministry that was appointed by resolution of the Ministerial Council on 9 November 2004 – discusses the topic from various viewpoints of the responsible ministries and jointly with independent experts. Besides, the Task Force strives towards constant development and improvement of the policies against human trafficking.
Meanwhile the Task Force has developed five National Action Plans against Human Trafficking that all have been adopted by the federal government. The Task Force supports and coordinates the implementation of the National Action Plans and has compiled a comprehensive report on each of the four National Action Plans that have already been completed.
Also under its leadership the web exhibition "Human trafficking – slavery of the 21st century" was created in 2016. It is especially designed for use in schools and available free of charge.
The Regional Implementing-Initiative against Trafficking in Human Beings (in German: Regionale Implementierungs-Initiative gegen Menschenhandel) was initiated in 2010 to explore options of improved regional cooperation. Its purpose is to develop partnerships and strategies in the fight against human trafficking, while focusing on trafficking in women and including neighbouring countries.
- Regional Implementation Initiative (RII) Regional Implementing-Initiative against Trafficking in Human Beings
- Web exhibition "Human trafficking - slavery of the 21st century"
- Combating Trafficking in Human Beings
Nationwide Hotline of the Federal Ministry of the Interior
The Federal Ministry of the Interior, Criminal Police Office, has set up a Nationwide Hotline to receive – also anonymous – reports of potential human trafficking cases (Menschenhandel).
National Human Trafficking Hotline
- LEFÖ – Intervention Center for Women affected by trafficking (IBF)
- MEN VIA – Betroffene von Menschenhandel: support for male victims of human trafficking (in German)
- UNDOK – union advice and assistance to workers without secured residence permit and / or without papers
- Sixth National Action Plan Against Human Trafficking covering the period from 2021-2023 (in German) (PDF, 258 KB)
- Fifth Austrian Report on Combating Human Trafficking, 2018-2020 (in German) (PDF, 451 KB)
- Guidelines for Responding to Cases of Trafficking in Human Beings for Labour Exploitation, Oct 2012 (PDF, 257 KB)
- Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and its Explanatory Report
- National Human Trafficking Hotline
- Web exhibition "Human trafficking – slavery of the 21st century"
- Website of the European Commission: Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings
- Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims