Why is Albania considered a “Source Country” for the illegal trafficking market? What does this mean? How do they stack up with the rest of the world, in regards to human sex trafficking? Albania emerged from decades-long communist rule in 1991 as a struggling, impoverished country with little economic viability, high poverty and unemployment rates and a plethora of corrupt officials. These factors made the country prime territory for the illegal trafficking market to take root, smuggling drugs, guns and women. Albania is ranked as Tier 2 in the annual Trafficking in Persons report produced by the US State Department. This means that the country does have laws concerning the practice of sex trafficking, however the country could be doing more to enforce these laws. A lot more. Ranging in age from 14 to 35, girls trafficked from Albania are among the youngest victims worldwide, with as many as 80 percent of them younger than 18.
Albanian victims are subjected to conditions of forced labor and sex trafficking within Albania and Greece, Italy, FYROM, Kosovo, and Western Europe. Approximately half of the victims referred for care within the country in 2009 were Albanian; these were primarily women and girls subjected to conditions of forced prostitution in hotels and private residences in Tirana, Durres, and Vlora. Children were primarily exploited for begging and other forms of forced labor. There is evidence that Albanian men have been subjected to conditions of forced labor in the agricultural sector of Greece and other neighboring countries.
Greece prides itself for its ancient history and for being the cradle of western civilization, but it’s also famous for one other thing: human trafficking. Many girls are lured into Greece by a respectable job offer, only to find themselves forced into prostitution. The women are constantly abused before being sold on to brothels in other countries. Human beings who are sold sometime up to ten times, like commercial commodities. After years of ignoring the problem, Athens has recently stepped up efforts to target global Mafia traffickers. But authorities admit that the problem can only be solved with international co-operation.
In Albania, which is a “source” for such trafficking the Government is making significant efforts to combat trafficking. In such a framework, it has improved its capacity to identify, protect, and reintegrate trafficking victims. At the same time it has also successfully prosecuted some sex trafficking offenders, imposing significant penalties, says a report on Wikipedia.
In March 2009, the government approved an amendment to the Social Assistance law which will provide victims of trafficking with the same social benefits accorded to other at-risk groups in Albania and provide government funding for shelters. The government continues to track and analyze trafficking trends through a nationwide database.
Government officials have increased public attention to trafficking in Albania. There are serious concerns, however, about protection for victims who testified against their traffickers. The government has not vigorously prosecuted labor trafficking offenders. Because of lack of political will and cooperation in some key government agencies, the government has sometimes been less than vigorous in its prosecution of human trafficking.
As is clear from the report of the State Department, half of the victims were women and girls who were victims of sexual exploitation. Children forced to beg or to work, while men – victims had also various forms of forced labor, particularly in the agricultural sector in Greece and Italy.
Corruption in the judiciary in Albania is the main obstacle, according to the report, which “block” the application of laws to protect victims and combat trafficking. It also says the State Department, the Albanian government, despite efforts, does not meet either the minimum international standards of human trafficking.
Obviously the well-known, but uncontrolled, sex trafficking problem will be an issue that could prevent them from joining the union. However, joining the EU could potentially help to curb the sex trafficking problem if the country is able to financially flourish and grow employment rates. The future is still unknown for Albania and for it’s trafficking victims. While there are NGO’s working to prevent sex trafficking within the country, the practice still continues.