Italian Programs Aid Trafficked Women
|Each year, thousands of women are trafficked from impoverished countries in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa and forced to work as prostitutes in richer countries. In 1997, Italy established the New Wings center, a place where trafficked women have a chance to begin rebuilding their lives.
Throughout Italy, 48 various programs assist female victims of traffickers. Italian law gives participants sixmonth legal residency, even if they do not denounce their traffickers; and they can renew residency if they have found jobs. These provisions distinguish the law from others in Europe, where denouncement is obligatory to obtain residency and is sometimes followed by repatriation. According to government figures, there are an estimated 3,500 trafficked women in Italy, and 1,200 have taken part in the programs.
In a novel approach to a growing global problem, New Wings tries both to help victims and to change the economic conditions in their home countries that make them vulnerable. As the women go through the legal process of denouncing their traffickers (one way of breaking the chain of these criminal networks) they work in the bakeries and restaurants of the nearby town, and the youngest cook and clean at the refugee center. Most of the women stay in Italy, where immigration laws offer special protection to trafficked women. For those who want to go back home, New Wings' satellite projects in Moldova and Ukraine help reintegrate the women and warn potential victims against the false promises of traffickers.
"On an international level, the response to human trafficking has been stupor," says Father Lodeserto of the New Wings program. "Italy has the only extensive social protection program. We are a model for other countries." New Wings, funded by the Italian government and the Roman Catholic Church, is especially effective because "they have resources to house a lot of women and an excellent relationship with the local police. Plus the women are self sufficient."
Several New Wings participants have returned home to work at satellite projects in countries such as Moldova and Ukraine, where they staff information and assistance centers and work on projects for building wells and roads. These will merge into a New Wings economic development project, inaugurated this month in Moldova, to stimulate employment and pave the way toward eventual entry into the EU. Several Italian textile, agricultural and industrial businesses have already signed on to invest in these projects and there is potential funding from the EU.
"In combating trafficking, It is not enough to take the girl from the street without confronting the underlying problems that contribute to this emigration," Father Lodeserto says. "We need to create incentives for them to not leave in the first place."
New Wings developed a two pronged approach to aid trafficked women that end up in Italy. The first is immediate rescue, legal help, and job training. The second is working on economic development projects in order to stimulate employment in the home countries of the women. Thus the project has both a short term goal and a long term goal. A similar project would need to be large, well funded, well staffed, and have an ability to work not only within the home country but in other countries as well. A smaller organization might try to implement the short term goals. It is helpful, in this case, to have government support and endorsement, as well as that of a large church (the Catholic Church). Similar projects would likely work well in areas of the world where the countries are close together and heavily involved in the various parts of the human trafficking trade.
|Action:||Legal, Economic/Business, Education/P.R.|
|Extent of Action:||National|
|Source:||The Colorado Daily, November 2-4, 2001, p. 13|
|Prepared By:||sl 1/02|