Network A Facilitating access and return to the labour market for those who have difficulty in being integrated or reintegrated into a labour market which must be open to everyone.
Project name Iris – Social and Vocational Reintegration of Women – Victims of Human Trafficking
Project number A0463

Project description

The Partnership was established by the "La Strada" Foundation to provide equal employment opportunities for women - human trafficking victims who run the highest risk of long-term unemployment and social exclusion. The key objective of the Project is to establish mechanisms for effective social and occupational reintegration of women - victims of human trafficking - and to enhance their job finding opportunities. Of equal importance is the objective of combating human trafficking with a prevention/awareness campaign targeted at potential victims entering the labour market.

Specialists from "La Strada" Foundation, Project Administrator, have prepared a diagnosis of problems faced by women - victims of human trafficking - in the Polish labour market. The results of a survey of women aged 19 to 25 years reveal the extent of problems faced by human trafficking victims when they are attempting to resume normal personal and occupational life. There are several factors behind this situation. Quite often, these women were unable to acquire education and skills required in the labour market due to family problems (family violence and dysfunctions). Aware of their low socio-economic status, they often take opportunity to find a job abroad where many of them fall victim to organised crime.

Most victims are sold to prostitution and sex businesses. Those succeeding in breaking away from that circle rarely come back to their local communities. Looking for a job away of the place of residence is a difficult task due to the catchment system (job seekers must register with the labour office of their residence) and a lack of previous experience and necessary skills. They face similar problems when attempting to retrain: suitable training courses are hardly accessible to them. Consequently, female victims of human trafficking usually agree to a low pay, bad treatment or labour law contraventions. Additional problems tend to emerge in the case of foreigners even those possessing a residence permit are exposed to discrimination and abuse due to insufficient knowledge of the language, market and labour law provisions.

The Partnership activities will cover 170 women, including 12 foreign citizens, who have contacted "La Strada" by calling the Foundation's hotline. The victims may take advantage of a comprehensive assistance programme, including telephone advice, crisis situation intervention (to satisfy basic subsistence and mental/physical health needs), services available from the advice centre and shelter, welfare assistance available from the Welfare Centre of Śródmieście District in Warsaw, social/educational/occupational reintegration schemes and placement/employment schemes subject to refund (45 beneficiaries). The programme of occupational integration has been tailored to specific needs of the beneficiaries who may select in consultation with their personal counsel training courses/events they find most suitable in their situation. All these activities are intended to enhance status and improve occupational opportunities of human trafficking victims by providing them with psychological support, ability to perform on the labour market (filling-in documents, self-presentation skills, CV writing, legal counselling, etc.). Considering a wide range of the planned activities, it is necessary to ensure seamless cooperation between central government agencies, non-government organisations and local governments across Poland. A comprehensive model of assistance to female human trafficking victims returning to the society and the labour market will be developed.

Preventive awareness activities intended to prevent the growth of human trafficking are an equally important objective of the Partnership. The awareness campaign is targeted at various groups, especially at young people who are about to enter the labour market, jobless women, female workers earning a low income and sex business workers. Preventive measures are targeted at beneficiaries from the regions of the highest rate of unemployment and poverty, as well as from the near-border regions, where local residents often seek a job across the border and young people entering the working age are most prone to become human trafficking victims. Educational/awareness events will be hosted by mainly by post-secondary schools for graduates entering the labour market. Approx. 3,600 people are expected to attend lectures, meetings and workshops, while 1,800 will be given a preventive advice (using hotline and e-mail). Dedicated reach-out programmes will be addressed at job agencies, non-government organisations, street workers, embassy staff members, police officers and teachers, i.e. those people and organisations who are directly involved in counteracting human trafficking. In order to improve effectiveness and extend the impact of new models, the Partnership established cooperation with foreign partnerships of a similar profile.

Dissemination activities are intended to promote the idea and ensure continuing implementation of the proven model of social and economic reintegration of women - human trafficking victims. An Internet site gathering information about social and occupational integration of such women will be available throughout the term of the Project. The Partnership will develop materials for the Project, as well as a strategy for distributing them to non-government organisations, welfare institutions and Poviat Labour Offices. In order to highlight the gravity of the problem and propose related solutions, the dissemination activities will involve actual and potential human trafficking victims, local communities and central and local government officials.