Gardaí interviewed 47 Latvian women who had been trafficked to Ireland solely to enter into a sham marriage with a non-EU citizen, a new report has revealed.
The women had all been paid upfront for entering into the marriages and none of them complained, according to the Immigration Council of Ireland. Many had been recruited through Facebook.
In another example of a sham marriage, a 17-year-old Slovak girl was trafficked into Ireland after her brother had sold her for €300 in order for her to be married to an older man. The girl was rescued and received support from Tusla. Three suspects were arrested in the case.
Nearly two-thirds of reported incidences of people trafficking to Ireland were subjected to sexual exploitation.
Of the 311 presumed victims of trafficking reported to or detected by An Garda Síochána in the last five years, 197 (63 per cent) were women or girls who were trafficked for prostitution.
Another 82 were trafficked for labour exploitation including 23 Romanian men who were exploited in a waste recycling plant.
Approximately 50 were women were trafficked for the purposes of being an au pair.
The report by the council is part of a pan-European project, TRACKS (Trafficked asylum seekers’ special needs).
It found the number of people being trafficked for labour purposes is on the rise partially because of the improving economy and the problems non-EU nationals have in getting visas. The main sectors for trafficking are agriculture, fisheries, domestic work, home care and restaurants.
A new trend in trafficking concerns pop-up car washes run by organised criminal groups, in particular from Romania, recruiting vulnerable unemployed men with the promise of a well-paid job in Ireland.
However, the report stressed that the reported figures do not reflect the real scale of the phenomenon of human trafficking in Ireland, due to difficulties in the identification of victims of trafficking.
Immigrant Council of Ireland anti-trafficking manager Nusha Yonkova said the 311 detected cases represent “just the tip of the iceberg”.