Victims of trafficking struggle with social reintegration

19/04/2012

Social reintegration of trafficking victims is even more difficult in cases when a family member played a role.

By Safet Kabashaj for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 19/04/12

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Teenage girls often fall victim to human trafficking, especially prostitution. [Reuters]

Drita is a Kosovo mother who at 19 became a victim of human trafficking through prostitution. Her nightmare lasted four years, until she escaped while pregnant in 2004.

Drita, whose last name is being withheld because she is a crime victim, says she recalls all too easily the harassment and abuse she suffered as a hostage.

"They cut me with a knife, beat me, harassed me, never gave me enough food, shocked me with electricity. They did everything to me. I experienced everything."

Like most victims of human trafficking, a family member sold Drita into prostitution. Her brother-in-law arranged her deportation to a prostitution site when she took a taxi home after babysitting her sister's son for a few days.

Arben Paqarizi, from the Kosovo police department that fights human trafficking, said that in the last two years, police identified 39 trafficking victims. In the first quarter of this year, 13 cases were registered.

More often than not, families of the unfortunate girls don't understand what happened, and usually don't inform police of their disappearance. Police early on suspect prostitution.

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Dhurata Prokshi, a sociologist at the Caritas organisation, which assists victims of human trafficking, says that prejudices worsen the chances of a victim's social reintegration.

"The fact that they've been trafficked and were used for prostitution makes them initially feel abused and victimised later in the society. The family is not always prepared to accept them, forget their past, and assist in their reintegration. This hesitation widens from the victim's family to a community, bringing the victims a stigma, forcing them to live isolated and in misery."

Their integration is even more difficult in cases when a family member is involved in the trafficking, as in Drita's case, says Petrit Sopjani of the International Organisation for Migration, which assists local NGOs dealing with the reintegration of trafficked women.

"Cases in which a family member is involved are very painful. Especially difficult is the process of their reintegration, because it causes new problems in the family: the stigma from society, the community … and trafficked victims are labelled, making it additionally difficult for their reintegration."

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