Partnerë për Fëmijët, a small Albanian non-governmental organisation is an implementing partner in a European Union funded project on human trafficking and gender based violence in five countries in the Western Balkans. Within this project, Partnerë për Fëmijët conducted public opinion research with adults living in five cities across the country. One hundred and thirty respondents from; Durres, Korcë, Pogradec, Tirana and Vlorë gave information on their understanding and awareness on the situation of human trafficking and gender based violence in Albania.

This article focuses on the views of the public in Albania on human trafficking.

 

Research Methodology
The research was conducted through standardised questionnaires prepared by social scientists and administered by two trained and experienced interviewers in October 2016. Respondents were chosen through a sampling procedure with the population aged 18 and above, residing in private households. The households were chosen by a random route method where every third household on the selected street was visited. The interviewers would invite an adult to be interviewed. The responses given to the questions were recorded directly onto the paper questionnaires.

 
Purpose
The reason for choosing to interview the public and to find out what they knew of human trafficking was to establish the public’s level of understanding and what they perceived to be human trafficking and who they thought was responsible to assist people affected by this violation of human rights. The findings would enable Partnerë për Fëmijët to create an advocacy and information campaign to better inform the public, but also to provide the findings to the responsible government institutions so they were aware of the issues that needed to be addressed in their review of national legislation and strategies.

 
Findings
97.0% of the respondents had heard the term human trafficking with 51% having heard and learnt about this on the television. 63% of respondents had never attended an information session on human trafficking. Concerning the severity of human trafficking more than half, 54.6% thought it was a very serious problem with 64.6% thinking it takes place in Albania.
Regarding their understanding of what human trafficking is:

 

As to whom the victims of human trafficking are; 49% thought victims were women and 43% thought they were children. Of these, 12.3% knew personally between 3 and 5 cases, 19.2% knew of only 1 case with 30.4% not knowing any cases. Of those who knew of cases of human trafficking; 7.4% knew of a family member and 11.1% of an acquaintance.

 

When asked if they felt able to provide assistance or help to a victim;

  • 13.8% did not know how they could help
  • 11.5% thought it was too risky to help victims of human trafficking
  • 10.8% did not want to have anything to do with such issues
  • Only 10% have reported cases to a government institution

 

Concerning where respondents would report a case of human trafficking, 65.4% of respondents said they knew where to report a case and 25.4% did not know. Of these, 70.5% would report a case to the police; 15.8% to an NGO and 2.2% to the local government. 36.2% of the respondents felt it was too risky to report cases; 32.3% felt secure in reporting and 27.7% were unsure.

 

Conclusions

The findings point to a generally high level of awareness of human trafficking, that it occurs within Albania, and that the most vulnerable women and children are those most at risk. The level of knowledge as to where to report a suspected case of human trafficking is viewed as the responsibility of the police in line with human trafficking being seen primarily as a crime. What most of the respondents were not aware of was the social, rehabilitation, legal, medical and other forms of assistance that needs to be provided by the local government authorities with the support of civil society organisations where available. This and the low level of reporting itself coupled with the people’s concerns about the risks to themselves of reporting a case would point to a lack of trust in the authorities and the poor levels of confidentiality within governmental intuitions.

 

In addition, the findings also point to a need for more national information campaigns on national television channels and local level meetings to raise awareness of the national referral mechanism and the relevant stakeholders who are responsible for identification, referral and support for all victims of human trafficking.

 

Ingrid Jones, Executive Director of Partnerë për Fëmijët