Breaking the Silence: Trafficking in Romani Communities

19 May 2011

Breaking the Silence: Trafficking in Romani Communities

Estimates provided during research by the ERRC and PiN about the perceived representation of Roma among trafficked persons in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia are several times higher than the proportion of Roma among the general population, indicating a disproportionate impact of this practice on Romani communities. Romani women and children were found to be particularly vulnerable to trafficking, which brings Roma to other countries and to other locations within their home countries. Roma are trafficked for various purposes, including sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, domestic servitude, organ trafficking, illegal adoption and forced begging. The vulnerability factors identified in this study are closely linked to those commonly associated with non-Romani trafficked persons and include structural forms of ethnic and gender discrimination, poverty and social exclusion which result in low educational achievement, high levels of unemployment, usury, growing up in State care, domestic violence and substance abuse. Gaps in law, policy and practice in the field of anti-trafficking constitute barriers to the fight against trafficking in Romani communities. Few Roma are identified by police as trafficked persons and many are reluctant to report themselves to law enforcement agencies for fear of reprisal from their traffickers or of prosecution for the conduct of criminal acts as a trafficked person. Similarly low numbers of Romani trafficked persons access victim prevention and protection services and general social protection systems are failing to reduce the extreme vulnerability of Roma to trafficking. The overwhelming lack of support available to Romani trafficked persons negatively impacts the ability of many to re-integrate, leaving them highly vulnerable to re-trafficking.


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