Human trafficking-related crime is on the rise in Estonia, where 15 such crimes were registered last year, half of which involved international human trafficking.
A human trafficking prevention and victim support helpline which has operated for 12 years in Estonia received calls from 420 people last year, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."
The helpline, which can be reached at +372 660 37 20, was called with concerns such as a woman hired to be a nanny who essentially had to sleep in a closet and was given the family's leftovers to eat as well as a laborer who rode to the work site in the trunk of a car and had to live in an unheated building.
The helpline works in close cooperation with Estonia's foreign embassies and, if needed, provides assistance to the person in distress, up to and including going to court. An increasing trend has been noted in appeals for help from individuals from third countries working in Estonia who have been deceived with promises of formal employment and salaries.
"Another concern is fictional marriages, which are on the increase; more and more of these women turn to [the helpline] when they hear where they have been entangled and from which they can no longer actually escape," explained nonprofit MTÜ Living for Tomorrow director Sirle Blumberg.
Generally speaking, calls tend to be made once an individual is already in trouble, not preventively.
Those seeking help are offered a free legal consultation regarding employment contracts, are directed to a shelter if neccessary and are given tips on how to avoid becoming victims of human trafficking.
Ferbruary also saw the launch of a state initiative social campaign to combat human trafficking centered on informing victims and their loved ones as well as encouaging people to report known incidents.
Editor: Aili Vahtla