Shadows of modern slaves have been laid out on Thursday outside Brussels’ Central Station for the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
The act was an initiative of the non-profit organisation PAG-ASA to make visible the victims of this underground exploitation.
"If you can see them, you can help them,” is written next to the silhouettes glued to the ground, accompanied by a QR code that links to video testimonies.
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Around 23,000 people are in a situation of modern slavery on Belgian territory, according to the Global Slavery Index. "We see many women from Nigeria, Albania or Romania who arrive here and are exploited in forced prostitution," explained Sarah De Hovre, director of PAG-ASA.
"We also see many men from North Africa but also from Eastern Europe who are exploited on construction sites, in restaurants, car washes or other small businesses,” she added.
This action is part of the Blue Heart campaign, which aims to end human trafficking. It calls on citizens to get involved in helping victims to come out of the shadows. "It is only together, in partnership with the various actors on the ground, police, inspectorate and justice, that we can put an end to the scourge of human trafficking," said De Hovre.
The confinement has made the situation of these victims even worse, she said. "The already overburdened and understaffed police and inspection services have found themselves unable to carry out the checks needed to find and help the victims".
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also donated a suit in the colours of the Blue Heart campaign to Manneken-Pis on Thursday. It consists of a white T-shirt and blue shorts. The Brussels City Hall will also be illuminated in blue during the evening.
The Brussels Times