Nordic Baltic Network - support to women victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation
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Nordic Baltic regional seminar, Copenhagen 7-9 December 2006

Malin Björk

The seminar was the second regional Nordic Baltic network meeting within the framework of the Nordic Baltic Pilot project, bringing together national teams (representing NGO service providers, key government agencies, and additional resource persons) from all 8 participating countries to meet and advance the work on reinforcing assistance and support to women victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Each national team reported to the network on the activities undertaken and the activities foreseen in the upcoming months. The priorities and the work to ensure victim assistance in the countries in the region are in different phases depending on the country, and each country presented their national work plans, covering six areas of work: Identification of women victims of trafficking; Residence/legal status and reflection delay; Shelter and specialised services; Referrals and Safe returns; Victim protection and data protection; Compensation and Financial assistance.

Guests from other parts of Europe were also invited to present their best practice in the field of victim assistance and support. Denise Marshall, director of the Poppy project in the UK, presented their work, which is based on a feminist approach and methods to assist women trafficked into the sexindustry, offering housing, counselling, healthcare, training, and resettlement assistance.

Heidi de Pauw, from Pagasa in Belgium, one of the three certified centres for assistance to VOT, presented the model of assistance and rights for victims of trafficking in Belgium.

The Italian legislation, enabling for victims of trafficking to obtain a temporary residence permit regardless of cooperation with the Police, was presented by Marcello d’Amico from Irene association.

Another important contribution to the seminar was the presentation by Cathy Zimmerman (London school of tropical medicine and hygiene) on the Physical and psychological health consequences of women trafficked in Europe.

In addition, the Nordic Baltic network seminar worked more in detail on a number of key topics, including on the identification of women victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation where the Rosa project (Norway) introduced their handbook for identification of women VOT. A further session focused on outlining the elements of a consistent service package for women VOT, and was guided by presentations by The Nest (Denmark) and the Poppy project (UK). Finally, the seminar included a specific session to start to define criteria and process in view of resettlement issues and safe returns, which focus on the needs of the victim.

A more full report of the seminar, and other outcome documents will soon be available. In the meantime, please contact EWL Project director Malin Björk for more information: bjork@womenlobby.org.