Interlinkages between trafficking in persons and marriage

2017 - 2019

The purpose of the assignment was to assist UNODC in the development of a technical paper that will contain two parts: a research component and a policy component. HEUNI implemented the research component, which will explore the extent to which different forms of marriage trafficking fall under the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol (or the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol) or something else entirely. The research component will also explore the various modus operandi used for different forms of marriage trafficking, including the involvement of organized criminal groups, as well as the profile of the victims and the offenders. The research contains fieldwork in 9 countries.

HEUNI trafficking experts Anniina Jokinen and Minna Viuhko started the project with a desk review in 2017 and continued data collection in 2018. Several missions together with the UNODC were executed to interview various practitioners, representatives of NGOs and government officials. Countries involved: Germany, Thailand, Vietnam, Canada, South Africa, Malawi, Serbia, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan.

Anniina Jokinen and Minna Viuhko organised and attended the UNODC expert group meeting on trafficking and marriage in Vienna on 19-20 November 2018. The EGM brought together experts around the world to discuss the links between different marriage conducts and human trafficking and to comment on the issue paper draft by Anniina and Minna. Moreover, the EGM focused on analysing concrete case examples, discussing the definition and terminology to be used as well as the policy implications of the phenomenon.

Based on the experts’ feedback and comments, the paper will be edited and submitted to the UNODC by end of December 2018. Next, the paper would be presented during the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in May 2019.

HEUNI researcher Minna Viuhko also participated in a panel discussion “Contextualizing modern-day responses to human trafficking: Moving the agenda forward" with a presentation "Studying the links between human trafficking and forced and sham marriages" at the EUROCRIM 2018, the 18th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology Conference in Sarajevo, Serbia.


The issue paper is a result of more than two years of research and collaboration between UNODC, HEUNI and national and international experts from around the world. HEUNI's Senior Programme Officer Anniina Jokinen and former researcher Minna Viuhko together with UNODC colleagues collected data from 9 countries (Germany, Thailand, Vietnam, Canada, South Africa, Malawi, Serbia, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan) and interviewed 150 experts on this complex topic. The research also explored the various modus operandi used for different forms of marriage trafficking, as well as the profile of the victims and the offenders.



For more information:
Anniina Jokinen ([email protected])

Exploitation of adolescents and children Human trafficking

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