LEFÖ – Intervention Centre for Trafficked Women and Girls has been providing psychosocial and legal assistance to a large number of women from Latin America, who were sexually exploited in Austria. On 9 April 2019 the court convicted the perpetrators and rewarded 16 victims a total amount of EUR 280,000 in compensation for material and non-material damages.
This criminal proceeding shows that the vulnerability to human trafficking is dynamic and context-specific. The abuse of a position of vulnerability has to be looked at as a linkage of factors, including not only class or formal education, but also gender, age and residency status. Many victims were middle-class women with education and degrees and all shared the wish for a safer life. This wish was exploited by the perpetrators. In this case, the understanding of working conditions entailed not only the material conditions, e.g. working hours, but also the abuse of power and psychological pressure. The judge emphasised that violations of working conditions, no matter which sector, are evidence of exploitation.
The original compensation claim was for EUR 710,000.