There are an estimated 17,000 people living in modern slavery in Lithuania and 145,000 in Italy (GSI 2018). Lithuanian people are trafficked within the country and abroad. Men and boys are exploited in forced criminal activity such as shoplifting, and women and girls in commercial sex. Italy is a destination, transit, and source country for women, children, and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. Victims originate from Nigeria, Romania, Morocco, China, and other countries. Female victims are often subjected to sex trafficking in Italy after accepting promises of employment as dancers, singers, models, restaurant servers, or caregivers. Romanian and Albanian criminal groups force Eastern European women and girls into commercial sex. Loreta experienced physical abuse as a child in a children’s home. She turned to drugs at thirteen years old. The only visitor she had at the home was a man who claimed to be her Godfather. He promised she could live with him when she turned fifteen and could legally leave the home. But he had previously raped her and when she was forced to live with him, her drug abuse increase. Shortly after, Loreta was trafficked into prostitution by a woman claiming to be her sister. When she was seventeen, she was told that pimp wanted to sell her abroad. She was taken to Italy. She was eventually able to escape after seeking help from a Lithuanian man who called the police.
The United Kingdom remains a significant destination for men, women and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. Originating primarily from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, people travel to the UK under promises of a better education, job opportunities and quality of life. As noted in the UK government’s 2015 review of modern slavery, migrant workers are trafficked to the UK for forced labour in agriculture, construction, food processing and domestic servitude. The latest government statistics derived from the UK National Referral Mechanism in 2014 reveal 2,340 potential victims of trafficking from 96 countries of origin, of whom 61 percent were female and 29 percent were children. Unable to find a job in Lithuania, Adam found a job in farming online with an agency in Northern Ireland. While the advertisement promised good pay and help with accommodation, upon arrival he was forced to live in a small caravan with no heating or electricity with five other people. He was forced to work long hours without breaks and was only allowed to leave the farm to buy food from a specific store chosen by his employer. With his passport confiscated and unable to save any money, Adam didn’t know how to get out of his situation.
Observers estimate 40 percent of identified Lithuanian trafficking victims are women and girls subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Lithuanian women are also subjected to sex trafficking in Western Europe and Scandinavia. Having grown up in a state-run children’s home, Loreta was prostituted from age 15 to age 19 by a man who claimed to be her Godfather. After escaping her abusers, she lived at the Klaipeda Social and Psychological Services Center in Lithuania for a year, where she was provided with holistic survivor-oriented services to help her regain control of her life.
According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, there are more than 11,000 slaves living in Lithuania. Observers estimate 40 percent of identified Lithuanian victims of modern slavery are women and girls subjected to sexual exploitation within the country. Lithuanian women are also subjected to sex trafficking in Western Europe and Scandinavia. Lithuanian children and adults are increasingly forced to engage in criminal activities, such as shoplifting and drug selling, in Nordic countries and Western Europe. Lithuanian men are subjected to forced labor, including in agriculture, in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Jonas was one of these men who left in the hope of well-paid work but found instead a situation of exploitation and violence. He was able to leave the situation due to work carried out by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.