When confronted with a list of 130 Romanian girls who were identified in forced prostitution in a destination country, we were especially impacted by the details of the communities that they were being recruited from.
It is vital that we link good intelligence to prompt action and thats what we did in a multi agency response 3 years ago.
We began by working with other Romanian organisations and the Anti Trafficking Police to distribute Trafficking recruitment awareness posters around the nations schools with the warning ‘Beware your dream job abroad doesn’t become your nightmare’. We also circulated some radio adverts with stories of girls who had come to countries like Greece for jobs in bars, which were actually forced prostitution. All of these signposted to a website and helpline with stories from Romanian Trafficking victims.
This was our initial response and action. We followed this up by going deeper into the communities each year where we knew there was active recruitment happening. We decided not to have a hit a run prevention response, as is so often the case, of a specialist preaching to a passive unknowing group of vulnerable young people. Instead we trained 40 to 60 girls at a time in each community, to become advocates on the issue of human trafficking. After training they worked in teams to deliver hundreds of community awareness activities in the months that followed.
We have just completed our third year of empowering these girls to play a part in safeguarding their peers and communities.
In one town this year called the ‘aquarium’ by locals (as it is the same word in Romanian for a pimp as it is for a fish) as there are so many pimps. Here we witnessed the extent of what happens when Trafficking is not confronted. The head of a school invited a local international education agency to bring girls they were working with. It soon became clear that the women who had brought them to the training were traffickers trying to make their agency look more credible by attending. The girls were their current recruits being groomed for travel abroad. The Anti Trafficking police threatened them and they left.
This has been one of the least expensive, most successfully implemented multi agency responses to counter trafficking we have encountered. It is something we would like to continue to deliver and expand by funding a full time team to spend more time investing in such communities. Communities ‘can’ be turned around.www.deschideochii.org