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The Bolenberg case now before the courts has highlighted the sinister link between prostitution and trafficking — a growing concern. Two brothels, one in a rural area of canton Schwyz and another in the picturesque town of Nidau in canton Bern, were raided simultaneously by police back in At least 23 women were found to be working under coercion, prosecutors say.
Nine men and one woman faced charges of human trafficking and inciting prostitution. The case was adjourned and reopens on June 5. The question preoccupying Swiss law enforcement authorities, policymakers and campaigners is how prevalent the human trafficking model of forced prostitution is and how best to protect women and girls caught in the net.
Human trafficking is widespread in Europe, with an estimated 70, to , victims per year. More than four out of five victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation, mostly women and girls. The fact that the Federal Police dealt with national and international queries relating to cases in indicates that the crime is happening on a wider scale. A recent Council of Europe report, entitled Prostitution, trafficking and modern slavery in Europe , was abundantly clear about the scale of the problem.
The ones who make a choice are a tiny minority. However there are no reliable statistics on the circumstances of sex workers in Europe, especially in Switzerland, as Mendes Bota found on his fact-finding mission to the country.
But there is no national or cantonal data collection. Nine men and one woman were charged with human trafficking and inciting prostitution after raids on the Bolenberg Bar brothel in canton Schwyz and another brothel in Nidau, Bern. Other individual charges include rape and embezzlement. More than 20 women, recruited in Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic, were found to be working as prostitutes in coercive conditions over an eight-month period.