Calls for more State support for trafficked women 

The Immigrant Council of Ireland is calling for gender-specific legal, housing and psychological supports for survivors of sex trafficking.
Calls for more State support for trafficked women 

The Immigrant Council of Ireland is calling for gender-specific legal, housing and psychological supports for survivors of sex trafficking. Picture: Paul Barker

The Immigrant Council of Ireland is calling for gender-specific legal, housing and psychological supports for survivors of sex trafficking, and has launched a new guide on supporting women who have been trafficked into Ireland for sexual exploitation.

The guide was developed by ASSIST, a European project led by the Immigrant Council, which includes partner agencies from Scotland, Germany, Spain, Italy and Belgium.

"Women and girls are the primary target of traffickers in Europe, and they are primarily trafficked for sexual exploitation," said Dr Nusha Yonkova, gender and anti-trafficking expert at the Immigrant Council.

Dr Yonkova said specific legal help, material assistance, safe and appropriate housing, specialised psychological support, access to training and employment and overall integration supports were needed to help survivors. 

"Survivors of trafficking play a central role in this project, providing us with insights and advice borne from their personal experiences, and participating in peer-to-peer support programmes," she said.

"Women who have survived particularly vicious abuse and exploitation are fundamentally strong individuals who can recover their ability to fend for themselves if they are given the right supports."

However, Ireland has performed poorly in this regard, according to Dr Yonkova.

"We are currently on the ‘Tier 2 watchlist’ of the US State Department’s annual global [url=%https:https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report-2020/[/url]Trafficking in Persons report, which means we are not meeting even the minimum standards for supporting people who have been trafficked. 

"There have been notable moves by the Government to address this in 2020, and we are looking forward to working with all relevant stakeholders on the continued improvement of Ireland’s responses."

The new guide developed by ASSIST has recommendations to improve how Ireland treats migrant women who have been trafficked.

The guide recommends that women should be treated as victims of crime before any restrictive migration framework is applied to their case, and that their right to claim international protection is not conditional. 

The guide also recommends an end to accommodating trafficked young girls and women in mixed-gender adult establishments, such as homeless shelters or asylum seeker centres.

Women with children also needed more specialised care, and issues such as lack of childcare was noted as a barrier to education and training and a potential cause of women being re-trafficked.

The importance of centring survivor's voices and the need for peer-to-peer support was also emphasised.

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