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Sex being used as currency to pay human traffickers, NGO warns

Women too poor to pay human traffickers in cash to escape conflict are paying with their bodies and some are arriving in Europe pregnant, according to a German voluntary organisation.

Caritas said people paid traffickers in any way they could to escape “hopeless” situations in their home country. For women living in poverty, some felt they had little choice but to trade sex for transport.

Speaking at the International Federation of Social Workers’ European Conference in Edinburgh, Gabriele Stark-Angermeier, head of Caritas in Munich, called for tough action against people traffickers.

“For a lot of money you can buy your escape. There are various ways you pay it. Most of the time money, but it also services.

“When they come to our reception centres women tell us they pay with their bodies.

“That means abuse not just on a daily basis, sometimes more than daily. They arrive at our shelters and they are pregnant. They are in their sixth month of pregnancy. They tell about the escape root and then they tell how it came about they are pregnant.

“That is one situation that is hardly portrayed in the media. For me this human trafficking is punishable.”

Ms Stark-Angermeier said those seeking refuge in Europe came from countries where their lives are at risk and “where they have no prospects”.

“The reason for leaving their home country varies. What is common is their livelihoods are under threat.

“The escape route is the lesser of the evil, even when the escape route is life-threatening.”

Ms Stark-Angermeier said thousands of people seeking asylum were arriving in Munich on a daily basis. New support systems have had to be put in place to cope with the volume of people.

Some travelled by overnight train to Munich from Italy. “These trains have been very busy since March. They are mainly full with refugees and maybe only about ten tourists.”

Ms Stark-Angermeier said it was vital that social workers supported refugees and worked with colleagues across borders.