The trafficking of minors

the trafficking of minors Romanian NGOs are fighting human trafficking.

According to the European Commission between 2015 and 2016 more than half of the human trafficking in the EU 56% was done only for sexual exploitation and this remains its most widespread form. In this context as expected women and girls accounted for two thirds out of the total registered victims, 68%. This percentage would go up to 77% if we eliminated statistic data from the UK, which is no longer an EU member. The first five European countries of residence for the victims were Romania, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Bulgaria.

The situation doesn't seem to have changed significantly in the present as in 2018 Romania was still one of the source-countries for human trafficking, according to the National Agency against Human Trafficking and half of the total number of victims were minors. Some of these girls, who somehow managed to break out of this type of contemporary slavery are being helped by activist Iana Matei, the one who 20 years ago opened a shelter for the protection and social inclusion of the victims of human trafficking. According to Iana Matei, ever since its foundation, the aforementioned NGO entitled Reaching Out Romania has offered assistance to over 600 sexploitation victims.

Iana Matei: "We started with an apartment that we rented back then, after that the number of girls increased and I think in 2000 we registered the largest number of girls. Most of them were being trafficked in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Later we had to build a shelter for them and added another one as their number also increased. The two centers that we have at present can accommodate 18 girls and at present there are 12 girls living in these centers. We still have another accommodation facility in a lavender farm in Craiova, southern Romania, because we wanted to create an alternative for the girls who don't want to continue their studies. Most of them come from villages and at our lavender farm we teach them how to develop their own businesses and trades. The girls in our centers have ages between 12 and 14 and from my point of view we should be speaking about pedophilia here, not about human trafficking. This is violence not against women but against children."

At the lavender farm, these girls are offered the occasion to learn the skills they need for a trade so that they may not resort to prostitution again but at the shelter founded by Iana Matei they are also offered psychological assistance. Sexploitation causes specific trauma, which are difficult to overwhelm; victims are suffering from low self-esteem as they were being deprived of affection at a very early age. These issues are usually exploited by traffickers who often resort to the 'loverboy' method to seduce young girls into prostitution. 

Iana Matei:" The loverboy method allows the trafficker to annihilate the young girl's identity. We are speaking here about young girls who don't actually know what love is and that makes them easy prey for these predators. Unfortunately, these young girls become sex-addicts in time. If they start their sex-life at around 11 or 12 years old and have about 10/15 clients a day, a certain type of addiction is formed, but this subject is taboo as nobody wants to talk about it. Furthermore, these young girls will often have to deal with a lot of finger-pointing as people are very judgemental and eager to do blame-shifting. The first three months are the most difficult because what they want to do most is to go back to their job, their addiction. State institutions aren't very helpful in this respect. For instance, under the law any child must go to school, but these girls, victims of sexploitation, have a special situation and cannot go back to school very soon."

According to Iana Matei, human trafficking requires an integrated approach, joint actions from the ministries of education, health, of the interior as well as the various directions for fighting organized crime. These should cooperate with the NGOs, which know the situation first hand. Furthermore the collective outlook of the rural communities, these girls are coming from, where sexploitation is misunderstood and blame-shifting is common, must radically change. Blame-shifting is also commonly related to another phenomenon affecting women nowadays, namely domestic violence. Here is Elena Samoila, programme coordinator with the FILIA Center, an association campaigning for women's rights.

Elena Samoila: "Victim blaming is a widespread phenomenon in society nowadays. Victims are oftentimes blamed for their decision to hold on to an abusive relationship or are scapegoated for the abusers' behaviour. People often say: 'well, there are two sides to every story, she must have done something'. To cut a long story short, we are living in a society where women are blamed for triggering their partner's abusive behaviour and are supposed to endure violence at the hands of their partners and put a brave face on things. Men, who are most of the time the abusers in a relationship, are usually getting away with it."

Experts are cautioning that under the present circumstances, the number of domestic violence cases is on the rise all over the world, as many women are confined to isolation with aggressive partners.

(translated by bill)
Publicat: 2020-07-01 14:00:00
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