All news
24 January 2006

Address by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden at the Round Table of Business community against the Trafficking of Human Beings

Your Majesty
Your Excellencies
Ladies and Gentlemen

In August of 1996 the first World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children was organised in Stockholm. Representatives of 122 governments, many non-governmental organisations, law enforcement, the travel industry and others were gathered and I was asked to be the Patron of this first World Congress. I have ever since actively followed the actions to combat the problem, taken by governments, NGOs and the corporate sector.

Having been made aware of the devastating consequences for the children, the most innocent and vulnerable of all victims, I took the initiative to establish in 1999 World Childhood Foundation. Childhood is fortunate to work directly with the corporate world. This co-operation is beneficial for us both. For us, of course, their financial support and their advice are the most important. For the companies it means taking social responsibility, which creates a lot of good-will in the community at large and - not the least essential - among their employees. They feel proud and happy to work in a company, which takes social responsibility and I think we all know that more and more companies are realizing the importance of being regarded as 'a good citizen'. Today we have 14 co-founders and three Major Partners.

An important field for Childhood is to support initiatives in the combat against sexual abuse of children as well as to provide treatment and support to these children. Presently World Childhood Foundation is supporting 76 projects in 14 countries.

It was also based on the World Congress that the 'Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism' was developed in 1998 by ECPAT Sweden and adopted by the main part of the Swedish travel industry. The Code is currently implemented globally. 68 travel companies from 18 countries and 3 major international hotel chains are signatories of the Code of Conduct. The number of tourists impacted by the Code is estimated to over 30 million per year. Concrete examples of the implementation are training of the staff of the travel industry as well providing information to travellers through websites, brochures, catalogues or in-flight videos onboard the plane. Travellers are made aware of how children are being sexually exploited for profit and what they can do to prevent it.

Enlisting the support of the Swedish corporate sector I am proud to inform you that all major Swedish Internet service providers, since last year, are blocking access to the commercial child pornographic web sites. According to National Police statistics 20-30.000 attempts per day to access commercial child pornographic web sites are now stopped in Sweden.

Also, according to National Police, the majority of victims of trafficking are brought to Sweden via the ferries operating on the Baltic Sea. I am very pleased that one of these major ferry companies, which also is one of Childhood's co-founders, is now taking preventive measures against trafficking; their staff has been trained and written material on trafficking in several languages is available onboard.

I much appreciate that all of you have been given the opportunity here in Athens to see the film Lilya 4-ever. Identifying the Swedish corporate sector's contribution to combating the trafficking of human beings, I would like to place the production company of Lilya 4-ever, Memphis Film and the director Mr Lukas Moodysson, on top of that list. They have made it possible to raise the awareness of millions of individuals, not only in Sweden, but in no less than 56 other countries on all continents to which the film was distributed commercially. The film is also frequently used for educational purposes by schools, police academies, judges and prosecutors, non-governmental organizations and other institutions in several countries. It has furthermore been screened in the Parliaments of Sweden, Russia, Belgium and other countries and is a compulsory part of the training for all Swedish peace keeping troops to the Balkans and other destinations. Lilya 4-ever was also nominated for an Oscar award.

The film Lilya 4-ever manifests not only the extreme vulnerability of the victims but also the importance the demand factor has for maintaining this lucrative business in human bodies. Very sadly, the film is based on a real case of trafficking to Sweden:

Her name was Dangoule. She was a 16 year old girl from Lithuania with the same dreams and the same hopes for the future as any other teenager. She was enticed by the man she loved and trusted to go to Sweden with promises of a better life and a steady job picking vegetables. She arrived to Kristianstad, a city in the south of Sweden, on the 17 th of November 1999. Her passport was taken from her and she was locked up in an apartment and told that she now had a debt of 20.000 Euros for her travel, passport and accommodation costs. Dangoule was beaten, raped, starved and humiliated. Her pimp told her that if she informed anyone of her situation, she would be thrown in prison since prostitution is a crime in Sweden. Moreover, she was an illegal immigrant since her passport was faked. The terror forced Dangoule to be silent and to suffer several customers per day. On the 7 th of January 2000, in utter despair, Dangoule jumped from a bridge to end her life.

In one of the last sequences of the film you saw Lilya being taken away by the ambulance. In real life 16 year old Dangoule survived another few days in hospital. She however never regained consciousness and died alone and deprived of all dignity in a foreign country. Her identity and other circumstances would have remained unknown for always, had not police found a piece of paper with a telephone number in her clothes. The telephone number led police to the apartment where she had been kept prisoner. Dangoule´s few belongings were found, including some letters she had written to friends in Lithuania. These letters made police eventually identify her friends, who could fill in the missing parts of Dangoule´s short life in her home country. The trafficker was never identified. In a last attempt to pursue the legal case, the police made an announcement on Swedish TV requesting information from the public. Surprisingly, a man came forward. He was Russian by nationality and admitted that he had been paid to take Dangoule from the airport to the apartment upon her arrival to Sweden. He claimed that he did not realize that this was a case of trafficking and that he had no further information. Due to lack of legislation at the time, specifically targeting trafficking of human beings, the man was set free. In fact, no one was prosecuted for the trafficking of Dangoule; for assaulting her, deceiving her, buying her body, raping her or causing her tragic death.

Had this case taken place two and a half years later, after 1 st of July 2002, when a comprehensive law was introduced in Sweden, targeting all phases of trafficking of human beings, that is, the recruitment, transport, providing accommodation, the advertising and the selling of sexual services, the Russian man would have been prosecuted and convicted.

But let us take a step further back in time: Had Dangoule had a higher level of education, would she not have realized that picking vegetables was not a realistic job offer in the middle of the Scandinavian winter? Had the passport officer in the airport had special training on trafficking of human beings, would she not have inspected Dangoule´s passport more carefully, maybe to detect that it was faked? Had the general public had more knowledge of trafficking, would not someone in the building where she was locked up have reacted to Dangoule´s screaming and the coming and going of different men? To these rhetoric questions I believe we find some important answers how to combat trafficking. Finally, had not Dangoule´s traffickers correctly counted on the demand factor, would Sweden have represented a lucrative market? Trafficking of human beings functions like any commercial business: with no demand there is no supply.

I am very pleased that the corporate sector has become such an important ally and that they are represented here in substantial numbers. There is no doubt that large corporations or small businesses have important contributions to make. And there is no doubt that the industry benefits from taking strong action against trafficking.

In my address here today I have focused on trafficking of minors for sexual purposes. I am aware that considerable trafficking is taking place also for other purposes, such as labour, begging, delinquency and adoption. Also that boys, as young as five, are trafficked to be used as camel jockeys. According to the International Organization for Migration, IOM, some 90% of the global trafficking is for sexual purposes and some 50% of the victims are minors, using the definition of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that is up to 18 years.

In conclusion I would like to share with you the following:

To see but not to see,
to see but to deny,
to see but not to act,
is a crime against a child!
You can make a difference!
You can stop this slavery!
You can save a child!

Stop the collaboration with non ethical hotels and do not tolerate those that promote or accept sexual services with minors.

Be a responsible company, a clean company, by guaranteeing your employees and your clients that there is no access possible on your company computers to child pornography.

Do inform your employees to be alert, do cooperate with the police and never erase this illegal material if it ever is downloaded.

Every pimp and every perpetrator should know: also you are watching them!

Thank you for being here, thank you to care: you can make a difference!

A warm thank you to our hosts who have taken this extremely valuable initiative and have organized this excellent and successful meeting to End Human Trafficking Now!