Trafficking in and from Romania, an overview

Photo by Luisa Migon from
Photo by Luisa Migon from


In Romania, the beginnings of human trafficking can be placed in the early 90s. Among the significant factors of trafficking, the following can be mentioned: geographical position, Romania being a country between Asia and Western Europe, close to traffic routes, the social costs of transition to a market economy involving a large number of social risk groups, failure of social policies to support vulnerable populations along with opening borders and migration to Western countries (Aninoşanu, 2012, ANITP 2007, Fleşner, 2010, etc.).

Romania is currently acknowledged at international level mainly as origin country for victims of trafficking in persons with over 6.000 Romanian victims identified across Europe (Eurostat data, 2013 and 2015) between 2010 and 2012. Although cross-border trafficking is predominant, during the last years the internal trafficking phenomenon became more and more visible. According to Eurostat data, which includes the official data collected by the Romanian authorities as well (2015), during the reference period (2010-1012), 3.230 out of 6.101 victims have been identified in Romania, while the rest were identified abroad, in other European countries. The figures of the identified Romanian victims exploited either internally or externally have registered a constant decrease from 1240 victims in 2010 to 896 victims in 2014.

In Romania, as well as at the EU level, over 60% of the identified victims are victims of sexual exploitation, the vast majority of these being women and girls. The Romanian minor victims are present in high percentages, representing up to 40% of the victims of sexual exploitation (data reflected in reports of ANITP from 2009 to 2015), these being much higher than in the case of the European average (14% of registered victims of sexual exploitation in Europe, EUROSTAT, 2015). A cross tabulation of the age and forms of exploitation shows that: a) the majority of minor girls are sexually exploited internally, b) the majority of adult women are sexually exploited through transnational trafficking and, c) the majority of adult men are exploited in transnational human trafficking.

The routes and flows of trans-national trafficking are slightly changing over years, the only constant factor being the great share of Romanians identified as victims, out of the total victim population. For the time period from 2009 to 2013, for example, the share of victims exploited trans-nationally was situated at 69.3%. Concerning the routes, it becomes evident that trafficking in Romanian citizens takes place mainly in Western European countries, and when victims suffer exploitation in more countries, the exploitation takes place either in neighboring countries or along the route to the final destination. The transportation of the victims is mainly done by land ways, with buses, minibuses or traffickers’ personal cars, European driving routes being used in this situation. The main countries of destination irrespective of the forms of exploitation, based on registration figures, are Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France and other. Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece and Cyprus are the top 5 destination countries (50.3%) and count a cumulative share of more than half of the total discovered human trafficking within the analyzed period.

From the end of the 1990s, and the early 2000s, several structures began to react to human trafficking in a systematic and targeted manner. With the support of international organizations such as the IOM (International Organization for Migration) and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), non-governmental organizations already active in the field had created specialized services for human trafficking victims. Later on, special anti-crime structures were established, such as The Directorate of Combating Human Trafficking, Anti-Drug Organization and Crime Investigation Directorate of Organized Crime (founded in 2004). In 2006, The National Agency against Human Trafficking, with 15 regional centers in its coordination, was founded; the Agency is responsible for coordinating, evaluating and monitoring the implementation of trafficking policies. In the beginning the emphasis was on staff professional training and on raising awareness campaigns (Aninoşanu, 2012).

Extract from the GIRL Gender Interventions for the Rights and Liberties of Women and Girls Victims of Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation, National Report Romania

Want to find out more? Check out the Romania Country fiche.


Related Posts