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Project Laces and Borders

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New Methodologies in the Support of Trafficked Women.

Trafficking in Human Beings: definition and legal status


It is commonly agreed that Trafficking in Human Beings (THB) is a vile attempt on human rights. It is an illicit practice which moves large sums of money. The Trafficking of Human Beings is one of the most lucrative crimes, equivalent to the smuggling of drugs and weapons. It is a crime which does not know frontiers and its victims are mainly women and children. In fact, women (as children, young or at an adult age) are the ones who are more prone to become victims of trafficking, as they have a higher economical and social vulnerability, as a result of a marked and persistent gender difference. In countries where the human rights and women’s rights are not respected, women become the easy target to the networks of trafficking making the trafficking itself a form of violation of the human and women’s rights, in a continuous spiral of abuse. So, Trafficking in Women is simultaneously a consequence and a cause of violation of the women’s human rights.

The Law no. 59/2007, of September 4, article 160 from the Portuguese Penal Code, typifies the Trafficking in Human Beings: whoever offers, delivers, entices, accepts, transports, lodges or shelters any person for the purpose of sexual exploitation, work exploitation or the extraction of organs: a) By violence, abduction or serious threat; b) By fraudulent ruse or manipulation; c) With abuse of authority resulting from a relationship of hierarchical, economic, work or family dependence; d) By taking advantage of the psychic incapacity or situation of special vulnerability of the victim; or e) Through obtaining consent from the person who has control over the victim; will be punished with a prison term of from three to ten years.

According to what is written above it is possible to establish the crime of Trafficking in Human Beings with a process which involves different phases: recruitment, transportation, transference, lodging or sheltering of people. It must be highlighted that it is currently being applied in Portugal the I National Action Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings(2007-2010) and which has been structured to a model that defines four strategic intervention areas, namely: 1) to know and spread information; 2) to prevent, spread awareness and train; 3) to protect, support and integrate; 4) to criminally investigate and suppress trafficking. Each area has respective measures to be implemented and outlined.


Among the support structures created recently in Portugal for the assistance and protection to victims of trafficking it is highlighted the Shelter and Protection Centre (Centro de Acolhimento e Protecção - CAP) for trafficked women and their children (Protocol celebrated between the government and the Association for Family Planning/Associação para o Planeamento da Família - APF) as well as the help lines which ought to be activated for information, attendance and help: SOS Immigrant Helpline (808 257 257) and Multidisciplinary Team (964 608 288).

Three main ideas are at the origin of the Project Laces and Borders:

♀ The national and international cooperation among the entities (governmental, NGO and OPC) who intervene in the field is fundamental for an effective combat to the Trafficking in Human Beings (THB) and to provide help to the victims;

♀ Being the cooperation and the networking vital for the combat to THB it is necessary to use and to fortify the networks and the synergies that were at the genesis and resulted in the project CAIM. This way, the Project Laces and Borders aims to be built under a tight correlation with these entities;

♀ It is urgent to understand the resistance mechanisms which prevent trafficked women of searching for the support which is already predicted by the Portuguese legislation.

Stemming from the three main central ideas it is possible to define the general and specific goals of the Project Laces and Borders:

General Goals:

♀ To enlarge and spread the intervention of UMAR in the field of Gender Violence;

♀ To contribute to a raise in the public awareness of THB in Portugal, in particular the Trafficking in Women, spreading its visibility to other forms of trafficking apart from the sexual exploitation – labour exploitation (mainly in domestic servitude)/ trafficking of organs/ illegal adoption;

♀ To reinforce the cooperation between Portuguese and international NGO working in the field of trafficking in women, with a special interest in NGO from Eastern Europe, Africa and Brazil (from the countries identified as origin countries);

♀ To cooperate closely with the Criminal Police in the defence of the human rights of trafficked women;

♀ To promote discussion among the entities which work in this field (Government, NGO and Criminal Police) in order to identify possible existent gaps in the Portuguese Law in what concerns the THB and then to propose amendments.

Specific goals:

♀ Elaborate and create a Pamphlet in several languages (Portuguese, Russian, English and French) about Gender Violence, with a special focus on THB, and including the work developed by UMAR in this field;

♀ Promote THB Awareness and Prevention Campaigns (with focus on the Trafficking in Women) in Portugal and also internationally, with partnerships of private entities, directed to possible victims of trafficking and to the society;

♀ Organize an International Seminar of Intensive Work in 2010 (Lisbon) intended exclusively to technicians who work in the field of THB and closed areas, as there is a need to create spaces for informal reflection, so that the entities who work in the field are able to share and update their methodologies and strategies in order to reflect upon joint forms of prevention/performance;

♀ Elaborate a Good Practices Manual (in Portuguese and English) having as basis what was discussed and concluded at the International Seminar;

♀ Promote awareness sessions for young people about THB in schools and libraries, articulating the Project Laces and Borders with the Project BIG - Bibliotecas pela Igualdade de Género (Libraries for Gender Equality);

♀ Strengthen the relations and cooperation with the Criminal Police in order to execute an effective combat to THB and to do it under a view of promotion of the victims’ human rights.

In brief, the Project Laces and Borders aims to act mainly on a THB prevention level (namely in the Trafficking in Women) in Portugal.

Filmography about Trafficking in Human Beings/Trafficking in Women

Anjos do Sol, de Rudi Lageman, 92’, Brasil, 2006

Hotel Terra Prometida (Promised Land), de Amos Gitai, 120’, Reino Unido, 2004

Human Trafficking (Tráfico Humano), de Christian Duquay, 162’, Canadá/EUA, 2005

Lilja 4-ever (Para Sempre Lilja), de Lukas Moodysson, 109’, Suécia/Dinamarca, 2002 

Princesas, de Fernando León de Aranoa, 113’, Espanha, 2005

Transe, de Teresa Villaverde, 126’, Portugal, 2006


Link for films/ documentaries about Trafficking in Human Beings »»

Campaigns about Trafficking in Human Beings

1. Campaigns made in Portugal

Mala [see »»]

Supermercado (60s) [see »»]

Conversa Telefónica (60s) [see »»]

2. Campaign made in Brasil

See it »»

To  know more about the theme, you can also consult:
National Organizations

AMCV – Association of Women Against Violence
APAV - Portuguese Association for Victim Support
CAIM – Co-operation – Action - Investigation - World Vision
CIG – Comission for Citizenship and Gender Equality
FPA - Family Planning Association
Linha SOS Imigrante
Observatory on Traffikcing in Human Beings
Polícia Judiciária
SEF – Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras

International Organizations

Amnesty for Women
Ban Ying
BlinN - Bonded Labour in Nederland
CATW - Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
GAATW – Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
La Strada International
Colectivo Hetaira

ECPAT International
European Women’s Lobby

Halley Movement
HDI – Human Development Initiatives
Human Rights Watch
On the Road
Poppy Project
Proyecto Esperanza
Reaching Out – Roménia
Rede Came
SMM – Serviço à Mulher Marginalizada
TAMPEP International
Terre des Homes


Alvim, Filipa, 2009, «Tráfico, Sexo e Imigração - breve reflexão sobre um problema social», Dossier Forúm pela Cidadania e Justiça Social, Lisboa, 11 e 12 de Julho de 2009

Cabral, Georgina Vaz (2007) «A escravatura moderna e doméstica» in Ockrent, Christine (org.) O livro negro da condição das mulheres, Lisboa: Temas & Debates. pp. 497-512.

Comissão para a Cidadania e Igualdade de Género - CIG (2008) I Plano Nacional Contra o Tráfico de Seres Humanos (2007-2010), Lisboa: CIG.

Comissão para a Cidadania e Igualdade de Género - CIG (2008) Convenção do Conselho da Europa relativa à Luta contra o Tráfico de Seres Humanos. Resolução da Assembleia da República n.º 1/2008, Lisboa: CIG.

Grupo Davida (2005) «Prostitutas, ‘Traficadas’ e Pânicos Morais: uma Análise da Produção de Fatos e Pesquisas sobre o ‘Tráfico de Seres Humanos’», Cadernos Pagu. Disponível em: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0104-83332005000200007 (último acesso 04/11/2009).

Kempadoo, Kamala e Doezema, Jo (eds.) (1998) Global Sex Workers: Rights, Resistance and Redefinition, Nova Iorque: Routledge.

Lopes, Ana (2006) Trabalhadores do Sexo Uni-vos! Organização Laboral na Indústria do Sexo, Lisboa: Dom Quixote.

Marcovich, Malka (2007) «A exploração das mulheres no mundo» in Ockrent, Christine (org.) O livro negro da condição das mulheres, Lisboa: Temas & Debates. pp. 423-462.

Martins, Jorge (Coord.) (2008), Tráfico de Mulheres para fins de Exploração Sexual. Kit de Apoio à Formação para a Assistência às Vítimas, Projecto CAIM,

Nações Unidas (2000) Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children supplementing the United Nations Convention against organized crime. Disponível em: http://untreaty.un.org/English/TreatyEvent2003/Texts/treaty2E.pdf (último acesso a 04/11/2009).

Oliveira, Alexandra (2004) As Vendedoras de Ilusões: estudo sobre prostituição, alterne e striptease, Lisboa: Editorial Notícias.

Oliveira, Alexandra e MANITA, Celina (2002) Estudo da caracterização da prostituição de rua no Porto e em Matosinhos, Porto: CIDM.

Peixoto, João (2007) «Tráfico, Contrabando e Imigração Irregular. Os Novos Contornos da Imigração Brasileira em Portugal», Sociologia. Problemas e Práticas, n.º 53, pp. 71-90.

Projecto CAIM (2008) Tráfico de Mulheres para Fins de Exploração Sexual. Kit de Apoio à Formação para a Prevenção e Assistência às Vítimas, Lisboa: CIG.

Ribeiro, Manuela et al (2008) Vidas na Raia. Prostituição Feminina em Regiões de Fronteira., Porto: Afrontamento.

Ribeiro, Manuela, Silva, Manuel Carlos, Ribeiro, Fernando, Sacramento, Octávio (2005) Prostituição Abrigada em Clubes (Zonas Fronteiriças do Minho e Trás-os-Montes). Práticas, Riscos e Saúde, Lisboa: CIDM.

Roberts, Nickie (1996) A Prostituição Através dos Tempos, Lisboa: Editorial Presença.

SANTOS, Boaventura Sousa, Gomes, Conceição, Duarte, Madalena, Baganha, Maria Ioannis (2007) Tráfico de Mulheres em Portugal para Fins de Exploração Sexual, Projecto CAIM – Cooperação. Acção. Investigação. Mundivisão. Coimbra: Centro de Estudos Sociais (CES).

Santos, Carlos Oliveira (1982) «A prostituição em Portugal nos séculos XIX e XX», História, nº 41 (Março), pp 2-21.

SEF/MAI (2008), Campanha Contra o Tráfico de Seres Humanos. Não estás à Venda, Colecção Migrações. Século XXI, SEF.

Tavares, Manuela (2006) Prostituição. Diferentes posicionamentos no movimento feminista. Disponível em:
http://www.umarfeminismos.org/grupostrabalho/pdf/prostituicaomantavares.pdf (último acesso a 04/11/2009).


UMAR – União de Mulheres Alternativa e Resposta

Projecto Laços e Fronteiras

Rua de S. Lázaro, nº 111, 1º

1150-121 Lisboa

tel: 21 887 30 05


To Consult:

I National Action Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings [pdf] »»
Pamphlet from the Project Laces and Borders: Cut the trap [pdf] »»