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In Belgium, trafficking in human beings resurfaced on the public agenda in the early nineties after the publication of a book entitled “Ze zijn zo lief, mijnheer” (“They are so sweet, sir”), written by the journalist Chris De Stoop.
The book received a lot of media attention and the subject of human trafficking became a domestic and international political item.

In the wake of strong public reaction, a Parliamentary Investigation Committee was formed in the House of Representatives, charged with examining proposals for a structural policy on combating the international women’s trade.
Since then, a number of measures have been taken, eventually leading to the 1995 Law on the Abolition of Trafficking in Human Beings and Child Pornography.   This law gave no specific definition of trafficking in human beings. Hence, it is not restricted to trade in women but is also applicable to victims of economic exploitation.

Photography by Elke Roelant