Don't gamble with your future

Bulgaria is a major driver in the latest European campaign for prevention of trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation

Photo: National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings

The General Directorate Combating Organised Crime at the Ministry of Interior together with the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, and with the support of EMPACT, have launched a campaign to prevent trafficking in human beings with a focus on sexual exploitation, named Blind Betting (https://youtu.be/KnXXluzMad8). This campaign, which was planned and implemented entirely by a Bulgarian team, is conducted under the slogan Don't Gamble With Your Future. It aims at drawing the attention of the public and groups at risk to the methods of engaging in trafficking, identifying and supporting the victims of sexual exploitation.

Blind Betting will be expanded to 26 European countries. Some of them are countries of origin of victims, such as Bulgaria, others are defined as destination countries, where traffickers exploit their victims.

The campaign is the result of the joint work of the Secretariat of the National Commission and the General Directorate Combating Organised Crime. The main visual symbol - a twofaced queen of hearts - was specially drawn for the project. The thematic videos for the campaign are the work of one of the most well-known movie directors in Bulgaria - Valeri Milev. Numerous visuals for online and offline dissemination, as well as an audio spot, have been created for the campaign. All promotional materials were provided to Member States for use, adapted to their official languages.

The campaign will run within two periods: from 28 June to 31 July, focusing on the risks of trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and from 18 October to 30 November, focusing on users of sexual services provided by victims of trafficking.

The most common form of human trafficking, according to official data from the Prosecutor's Office of Bulgaria and the European Public Prosecutor's Office, is for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Annually, there are more than 100 reports submitted for potential victims of sexual exploitation and forced prostitution, both in Bulgaria and abroad, at the administration of the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings.

Victims, driven by their dreams for a better life, bet blindly, sometimes even consciously choosing to provide sexual services, not expecting that someone else will profit from the selling of the victims' own bodies. This wrong choice leads them to violence, dependence, shame and fear. The way back is very difficult, but the victims must know that there are people who will be there to help them rebuild their lives.

Be careful and watch out! Not everyone is well intentioned to you, sometimes even those people you think you love. They would lie to make money by selling your body. These people are criminals.

People who pay for sexual services from victims of trafficking are also criminally liable.

How can you identify the dangerous traps of trafficking for sexual exploitation?

None of the signs below guarantees that you are trapped in sexual exploitation, but if someone engages in more than one of the described elements, please report a potential risk:

- Do they shower you with unrealistic promises for a brighter future?

- Do they offer you a job with fashion agencies, clubs, restaurants, hotels or elsewhere, with unrealistically high pay?

- Do they want you to provide them with provocative photos or videos?

- Do they offer you trips abroad or to another location without you even knowing each other long enough?

- Do they react aggressively when you do not do what they want?

- Do they want to receive from you your personal information and data?

- Do they insist that your relatives should not be informed about your relationship and future plans?

- Do they promise or give you expensive and luxury gifts?

- Do they avoid sharing personal information with you about themselves?

- Do they avoid sharing with you the origin of their finances and where they live?

- Do they avoid introducing you to their friends and relatives?

If you are in trouble abroad, contact immediately the Bulgarian representation in the country where you are located. Even if you have your documents confiscated or you do not speak and understand the language in the country you are, seek help from the police, from non-governmental organisation working with people in need, from your relatives, or call the emergency telephone number 112 - it is completely free and can be dialled without a country code from everywhere within the EU.

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