Protecting Women Victims of Human Trafficking in Italy

28th session, 16-20 June 2003
Agenda item 5

I speak on behalf of Franciscans International and in my capacity of staff member of the organization “Liberazione e Speranza” (Liberation and Hope), a diocesian group - where Franciscans are actively engaged - operating in Novara, Italy.

In Italy,10,000 women are estimated to be victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation purposes; about 300 of them are in the territory of the province of Novara where my association works. The majority of them come from Nigeria, at a lesser extent, from Romania, Albania, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine, and just a few are from South America.

I would like to share with the Working Group the program carried out by “Liberazione e Speranza” in collaboration with the authorities of the province of Novara. Our projects, which are endorsed by the InterMinisterial Commission (article 18 of the Law Decree 286 of 25 July 1998), guarantee the implementation of protection and social rehabilitation measures for women victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. About 150 to 200 women have benefitted from this iniative in the last three years.

The program’s main components are the following:

- direct contact with women and girls in the streets,
- personalized educational planning,
- psychological support,
- differentiated hosting periods in appropriate structures,
- health care,
- juridical assistance (obtaining permits, collaboration with police authorities to expedite the denunciations),
- assistance during penal procedures following denunciations in which women are victimized,
- delivery of passports,
- recovering autonomy.

In the course of those three years, we have been meeting several difficulties which are also shared by other associations working at the national level.
1. For many women, who collaborated with the Italian police by denouncing members of the criminal groups that brought them to Italy and forced them into prostitution, is highly dangerous to return to their own country until the procedure is completely concluded. The fact that some Embassies, namely the ones of Moldova, Ukraine and Romania, do not release passports obliges those women to go back to their home country in order to get an identification document putting at risk their life.
2. Equally unfortunate is the fact that forced repatriation cases of women victims of trafficking and taking part in our program occurred during those years.
3. Also, due to the threatens and intimidations exerted against the families of the victims that cooperated with the authorities, it is extremely important that protection and assistance measures are established for them as well through effective collaboration among police and administrative forces of the countries concerned.
In conclusion, Franciscans International and Liberazione e Speranza believe that it is of the utmost importance to allow women victims of human trafficking to fully recover their dignity of human beings by ensuring that governments, at all levels, are engaged in effectively combat trafficking through the implementation of legal standards in conformity with human rights.

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Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery
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Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery