Trafficking in Human Beings entered the institutional agenda, even in Portugal, following the ratification of the so-called Palermo Protocol (trafficking in persons), drawn up in 2000 and enforced in 2003. Mara Clemente, a researcher at CIES- IUL, stresses that 'over the past 10 years in Portugal, an unusual effort has gone into building a system to combat trafficking in human beings'. However, according to the researcher, her study in Portugal reveals that, despite increasing attention to the problem, access to the protection of trafficked persons remains limited.
Especially in the case of women exploited in the sex market, there remains a very narrow conceptualization of the "ideal victim" and "ideal assistance", not only by the actors responsible for their formal identification, but also by those responsible for providing them with assistance. Thus, humility, naivety, and conformity to the dominant morality are required. Indeed, the stigma surrounding prostitution and women in the sex market often leads to recognition of their possible victimization and to a pathological reading of women trafficked in the sex market, as well as their condemnation to remain at the fringe of the current possibilities of foreseen reintegration after the trafficking.
Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 80/2018 recently approved the IV Plan of Action for the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Human Beings 2018-2021 (IV PAPCTSH 2018-2021) which "aims to consolidate and strengthen knowledge on the issue of trafficking in human beings, (and) to ensure that victims have better access to their rights." On this document Mara Clemente stresses that 'the concerns of researchers and organized civil society should be taken into account in order to ensure the best identification and protection of trafficked persons'.
The GRETA report (Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings) dated March 2017, during the second round of Evaluation on the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, in Portugal, warns of the need to ensure that, in practice, the formal identification of trafficked persons is dissociated from their involvement in criminal investigations and judicial proceedings. Although, since Decree-Law no. 368/2007 of 5 November 2007, Portugal has a legal framework which recommends that formal identification and residence permits for trafficked persons should not depend on their cooperation with the police, the researcher underlines that the legislative provision referred to above may not be sufficient to guarantee that objective in practice.
On the subject you can also consult the documents:
Tráficos, trânsitos sexuais e agência (Traffic, sexual transits and agency – in Portuguese)