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Focus on: Trafficking from Romania in Italy and in Spain

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Photo by Adam Nieszporek from freeimages.com

 

Italy and Spain are two of the main destinations for Romanian victims of trafficking. The official data, as well as the experience of professionals, indicate the relevance of the phenomenon of trafficking in Italy as for girls and women of Romanian nationality.

Both Spanish and Italian anti-trafficking professionals report that, in recent years, trafficking originating from Romania is characterized by the age of the victims, that mainly in the recent years, accounts to a greater involvement of minors sexually exploited.

Regarding the accession of Romania to the EU, as related to trafficking, opinions differ, Italians have the clear idea that the adhesion of Romania to the European Union has changed the status of the victims in Italy, who are no longer third countries citizens (non-EU Member State), but European citizens, with obvious consequences not only on the conditions of entry and residence in Italy, but also on the methods of recruitment and exploitation used in the framework of the trafficking processes. The acquisition of the right to free movement within the EU has also influenced girls and women’s idea and perception of their migration project to Italy, aiming at escaping from poverty and discrimination. This has boosted the varied and complex character of migration flows to Italy and made the identification of a clear border between “voluntary” and “forced” migration more questionable. These changes lead from one side to a decrease in the number of victims of trafficking from Romania who apply and have access to the programs of protection and assistance managed by third sector organizations from the other to an increase of Romanian women and girls sexually exploited.

On the other side, interviewed Spanish professionals present different opinions: some believe that the accession of Romania to the EU facilitated trafficking. Others think it had a reverse effect, as the issue of irregular immigration, which is also how traffickers recruited potential victims, didn’t work anymore. In Spain, professionals also associate changes in trafficking patterns to changes in law enforcement practices, such as increased prosecution.

Professionals from both countries report similar features in recruitment. It is not criminal networks who directly recruit women but mainly persons belonging to the girls’ and women’s personal environment, trusted acquaintances and “fake boyfriends” acting as intermediary for the traffickers. Psychological elements are reported to play an important part in these recruitment patterns: trust for family members and infatuation and love relationships.

Recruitment and exploitation patterns are often based on affective relationships between the victim and the trafficker/exploiter, establishing ambiguous areas of negotiation and voluntariness between the recruiter/exploiter and the victim with limited or no use of violence, abuse and severe limitation of personal freedom and with less cases of severe violence, as compared to previous years.

Both Italy and Spain report a connection is also identified between the Romanian and Albanian criminality involved in trafficking for sexual exploitation, in the sense that Romanian women and girls are often exploited by Albanian men.

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Numbers 2006

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Photo by Chris Gunton from freeimages.com
Photo by Chris Gunton from freeimages.com

 

In 2006, The National Agency against Human Trafficking of Romania, 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).

The 15 regional centers set up to mirror at a smaller scale the Central Unit, being also composed of police officers, social workers, psychologists and sociologists performing similar tasks at local level. One of the outcomes of Agency involvement was a consistent improvement of the anti-trafficking response, guided by the victim centered approach principle. Programs like transnational referral mechanism, developed within a SEE countries project coordinated by ICMPD, currently implemented by Romanian authorities when Romanian victims are repatriated with agency support or Victims co-ordination during criminal proceedings that facilitated access to justice for an increased number of victims, are some of the measures that contributed to a steady development of anti-trafficking capacity resulting in a decrease of the number of victims in the past years and more successful prosecutions and conviction of perpetrators.

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Trafficking in and from Romania, an overview

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Photo by Luisa Migon from freeimages.com
Photo by Luisa Migon from freeimages.com

 

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.

 

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From the Times of India “Trafficking survivor saves bar girl”

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An empowering story reported by the Times of India “A Faridabad girl, trafficked to Kolkata 12 years ago, took on a ruthless band of traffickers and spent Rs 15,000 of her hard-fought savings to rescue another trafficked girl from a bar in Siliguri recently.
Spurred by the memory of how her own flight to freedom was foiled by her traffickers years ago, she not only reached out to save the 22-year-old bar girl -who was kidnapped as a 12-year-old -but also helped police bust a pan-India racket that was operating for over a decade. A seven-week operation, spread across four states and involving five agencies, succeeded in reuniting the girl with her family in Delhi. Two other trafficked girls, including a minor, were also rescued from Kurukshetra.Read the full article

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From the Guardian “Government cuts will enfeeble Italy’s fight against sex trafficking, says UN”

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The Italian government’s decision to make a series of cuts to anti-trafficking programmes in Sicily and across the country will seriously undermine efforts to create a national response to the country’s growing trafficking crisis, NGOs and UN agencies are warning. Read full article 

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Girl campaign in Romania

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girl campaign romania

The GIRL campaign is in full implementation in Romania. The Romanian team spent is spending every August weekend in the cities of Alexandria and Giurgiu, talking to the visitors about how trafficking for sexual exploitation impacts teenage girls, as well as informing them with regard to their legal obligations when working abroad and having their underage children remain in Romania! Follow them on facebook CPE – Centrul Parteneriat pentru Egalitate and follow Girl A gender approach to trafficking for more news and updates 

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From the Italian report, a focus on how local politics are affecting the possibility to contrast trafficking

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Credits. Foto via Flickr/ Steve Gumaer
Credits. Foto via Flickr/ Steve Gumaer

 

The so-called “refugee emergency” has impacted the way policy makers, police officers and the general public perceive the trafficking phenomenon. The current “Italian emergency” concerns the management of the arrivals and the management of migrants applying for asylum or humanitarian protection. This resulted in a decline in the attention to the trafficking of human beings, both due to the quantitative dimension of the “new” phenomenon (arrivals and assistance of refugees) and for the fact that frequently the term ‘trafficking’ is used indifferently for either migratory flows characterized by exploitation (trafficking) as well as for those characterized by crossing the border without documents (smuggling of migrants). In recent months therefore the term human trafficking is used and linked to migration flows involving irregular economic migrants and refugees and not to the criminal phenomenon, such as defined by the Palermo Protocol and Directive 2011/36/EU.

The media, and some politicians, are contributing to create a perception of emergency and advocate for a zero tolerance attitude towards undocumented immigration, in this context approaches and services based on the concept of solidarity, hospitality and respect for human rights is invoked. Regardless of the reduced interest in trafficking, that also seems to be linked to a substantial weakening of the Department of Equal Opportunities (responsible for the coordination of anti-trafficking measures), the integration between systems of protection concerning asylum seekers and those in favor of the victims of trafficking should in fact be strengthened and developed, also due to the fact that it is possible that, within the flows related to international protection, situations of trafficking emerge.

The Italian report was prepared by Expert for Europe http://www.expertforeurope.it/index.php/it/

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World Day against Trafficking in Persons – 30th of July

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Ahead of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, Gabriele Bischoff, President of the European Economic and Social Committee Workers’ Group, has called for the EU to take strong action against human trafficking, in particular to protect children, young people, women and vulnerable persons.

Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery which we cannot tolerate or ignore. It’s time for action to deliver on our promises and for action to implement the strategy for the eradication of trafficking in human beings. This strategy cannot be applied without active support from civil society, which often has direct contact with the victims. Victim support associations need financial resources, as do the public services which have to deal with this unacceptable reality“.

http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.news.40107

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News from Europe: World Day against Trafficking in Persons – 30th of July

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bh_WD_logo_EN_final

Ahead of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, Gabriele Bischoff, President of the European Economic and Social Committee Workers’ Group, has called for the EU to take strong action against human trafficking, in particular to protect children, young people, women and vulnerable persons.

Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery which we cannot tolerate or ignore. It’s time for action to deliver on our promises and for action to implement the strategy for the eradication of trafficking in human beings. This strategy cannot be applied without active support from civil society, which often has direct contact with the victims. Victim support associations need financial resources, as do the public services which have to deal with this unacceptable reality“.

http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.news.40107

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Helping girls in Perù to escape trafficking, with a helpline

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Tha National Helpline against trafficking in Peru is part of the National Action plan against trafficking, they received 3700 calls in the first six months of 2016 leading the way to 122 victims escape and trials against exploiters. Read the full article on the newspaper Terra