skip to content

Violence Research Centre

 

Our PhD student Klea Ramaj, supervised by Prof Manuel Eisner, published a research article entitled The Aftermath of Human Trafficking: Exploring the Albanian Victims’ Return, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration Challenges in the Journal of Human Trafficking. The article is based on her MPhil dissertation, supervised by Dr Paolo Campana, an expert on organised crime and illegal markets. 

Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing areas of criminal activity across the world. Albanian women and children have been increasingly trafficked since the collapse of communism in the 1990s. The Aftermath of Human Trafficking focuses on the rehabilitation and integration challenges experienced by the victims once they return to Albania.

The article reviews the relevant legal and theoretical literature, outlines the methodological steps in implementing the study in three Albanian cities – Tirana, Elbasan, and Vlora – and presents results based on interviews with practitioners from four support organisations, including three NGOs.  

Rehabilitation and integration hurdles

Trafficking victims were women who had been trafficked for sexual exploitation (forced prostitution or sham marriages) and children who had been trafficked for forced begging. Destinations included Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Germany, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. Trafficked women and children had been recruited by powerful criminal networks and their return to Albania was often involuntary.

Interviews with practitioners revealed that once back in their native country, the majority of the victims faced physical and mental health problems, familial/societal exclusion, poverty and even criminal prosecutions because of false testimonies given to the police or failure to provide information on the traffickers, caused by fear of retaliation.

The exploitation period varied from six months to seven years. Victims were mostly identified through police investigations in the destination countries and many returned involuntarily. Victims wished to start a new life in the destination country, rather than going back home to adverse conditions. Practitioners agreed reintegration in the destination country would be more successful because of wider economic opportunities and protection from stigma.

According to international guidelines, support offered to trafficking victims should address basic needs such as shelter, medical, psychological, and legal assistance and reintegration support such as professional training, job placement, accommodation, and reunification with the family and community. However, research has shown that support programmes are often not sufficiently funded. Rehabilitation and reintegration take time and resources. On an economic and institutional level, victim reintegration is hampered by “a lack of financial stability, exploitative working conditions, difficulties in accessing justice, a lack of state social services, and a weak bureaucratic system”. Social stigma and family rejection are also big hurdles, especially in cases of parental neglect and the involvement of family members in the trafficking process.

About the author

Klea Ramaj is a PhD candidate in Criminology at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. She holds a BA (cum laude) in Social Sciences from University College Maastricht and an MPhil in Criminological Research from the University of Cambridge. In her research, Klea employs a victim-centred approach and is particularly interested in shedding light on the voices of marginalized women and children in low-and-middle-income-countries. She is skilled in both qualitative and quantitative research.

 

Citation

Klea Ramaj (2021). The Aftermath of Human Trafficking: Exploring the Albanian Victims’ Return, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration Challenges, Journal of Human Trafficking, DOI: 10.1080/23322705.2021.1920823