1. An offer to work abroad that you get from someone you know is absolutely reliable.
This is not true. Often women fall into traffickers’ hands through acquaintances, friends, or even relatives. Many victims say they trusted an offer to work abroad just because it came from a person whom they knew well.
2. Traffickers always look like real criminals; you can recognize them just from their appearance.
This is false. There are various kinds of traffickers with various kinds of looks. Some of them will not resemble criminals at all. On the contrary, they may look very decent and reliable. They may have a nice family, children, even a daughter -- like you.
3. You will earn a lot of money working in a foreign country.
Don’t believe this lie. Most often trafficked women do not even see the money they earn. The biggest part or even all the money goes to the traffickers, pimps, and brothel-owners. Everything is in the hands of those who “bought” the woman. Even when clients pay directly to the girl, traffickers take that money by force or by deceit (for example, telling that they will transfer money for a girl to her bank account, which stays empty, of course.)
4. My boyfriend loves me. He would never ask me to prostitute myself.
Don’t believe it. This is the single, most common method used by Albanian traffickers. Your boyfriend could be a member of a large, complex, and powerful criminal network and sell you for a profit to a trafficker as soon as you are out of the country. Once deprived of your official documents and beaten into submission, your trafficker will use any method possible to maintain control over you and force you to do what he wants.
5. Employers buy you clothes, underwear, food, tickets, etc. out of kindness.
It is a lie. Traffickers buy various things for girls for two reasons. First, this is a kind of “investment in the product” -- the girl has to look good so that it will be easier to sell her. Second, traffickers want to make women indebted and thus gain more control over them. Trafficked women later have to pay back for all such “presents.” Girls are put in debt for the trip, their living place, clothes, food, etc. and they work to repay all that. Women even have to give back to their pimp the money that he paid to buy her.
6. You do not have to obtain an official work permit for a short job abroad or you will get it when already in a foreign country.
Not true. Generally, you always have to get a work permit or work visa before leaving Albania and starting work abroad. There a very few exceptions to this rule, and you should check them at the embassy or consulate of your destination country. If you go to a foreign country as a tourist and start working there, you immediately become an illegal person there. Illegal immigrants are socially unprotected and they have no rights. They are exploited and they have nobody to complain to; nobody defends their elementary human rights. If someone tells you that you do not need official documentation, that is a sure sign of his intent to exploit you.
7. You will be able to quit the “work” if you do not like it and go home whenever you want.
Don’t believe it. Being indebted to their pimps and having given their passport away, girls lose their rights and become totally controlled by traffickers. Girls become like merchandise that can be sold and re-sold, and their pimps do whatever they like with them. The “owner” will not let the girl go unless she earns him the money he paid for her, nor will he allow a woman to escape if the brings good profit for him. The “owner” alone decides when and under what conditions to let a girl free.
8. Traffickers will harm your family or others close to you if you do not obey.
Violence is often used to force women into prostitution and fulfill the customers’ wishes. Any woman’s attempt to resist is overcome by threats and violence. Because the “employers” have the woman’s home address, it is easy to convince her that unless she does what she is told they will harm her family and relatives. However, traffickers are not always as powerful as they say. They can control a powerless girl imprisoned at their place, but traffickers have no power over the rest of the world, including the police, humanitarian and non-governmental organizations, or state powers. You can address them for help.
9. It is senseless to seek assistance from outside.
Not so. Calling the police, embassy, or non-governmental organization will not necessarily make your situation worse. At least your health and life will not be threatened anymore, and you will be assisted. Women sold in brothels are viewed as victims of crime by the authorities, not as criminals themselves.
10. If you appeal for help, everyone in Albania will find out what has happened to you.
Without your approval, no information about you will be sent to your home country -- not for official institutions, not for your relatives or friends.
AAGW is a non-profit organization and we can only survive by donations from people like you