ASTRA SERBIA – supporting victims of human trafficking

Milena Rampoldi and Denise Nanni. In our so called democratic systems, every
day women are sold like slaves on work and/or sex market places. We talked to Katarina of
the organisation ASTRA in Serbia. ASTRA
supports women who are victims of human trafficking. Katarina explains us how
ASTRA works to prevent the phenomenon and to help victims. Also children and men are victims of human trafficking, even if 80% of them are women and girls.

are the groups of people more likely to be exposed to human trafficking in
on the obtained data
, Serbia is still country of origin and country of
exploitation of hu
­man trafficking victims. The victims are mainly citizens of Serbia
(99%) and they are mostly exploited in the territory of Serbia. Most of the
identified victims in Serbia are women and girls (80%). In 2015 60% of all
identified victims were children (under 18 years old). Through ASTRA
SOS Hotline for victims of human trafficking ASTRA
has received
31 reports regarding suspicion of possible
victim and/or trafficking in 2016. Out of that number 15 victims were identified. This year we again record the cases of
labour exploitation of our workers. This time, the destination was France,
where a group of Serbian workers (8 of them contacted ASTRA) were exploited in
the construction site. Among cases reported as suspected human trafficking 1 person was recognized as potential

does your organization get in touch with victims of human trafficking?
2002 ASTRA coordinates first SOS  Hotline
for victims of human trafficking.
ASTRA SOS Hotline received more than
28 000 calls from 4800
clients. Of this figure, 484 persons
were identified as victims of human trafficking from 2002 until now. The
majority of calls in the category of calls directly related to human
trafficking are post festum calls,
i.e. calls made in the period after the identification. These calls are
directly related to the provision of urgent care, recovery and (re)integration
of trafficking victims. 

to your experience, which are the most effective ways to promote reintegration?
Direct victim assistance is provided taking care of the best
interest and individual needs of trafficked persons and with full participation
of the client in question. As a service provider, ASTRA abides by the
principles of trust, respect for differences and individual wishes, needs and
pace of recovery, non-discrimination and highest standards in work. All cases
are run and monitored based on individual case management plans with full
respect of client’s pace, wishes and needs. Services available to trafficking
survivors and their families through ASTRA SOS Hotline and Direct Victim
Assistance Program include counseling and support in the process of search,
identification, recovery and reintegration; psychological assistance; legal
assistance; medical assistance. Within this program, there is also ASTRA Mobile
Team that is in charge of field actions, ready to accompany clients in the
field from the moment of their identification until the end of recovery and
reintegration process, helping them to successfully overcome all administrative
barriers that emerge on the path of realization of their basic civil and human
rights. In the process of reintegration, of great importance are also the
activities aimed at improving clients’ economic potential and employability.
This includes a range of activities – formal and informal vocational and adult
education programs, economic empowerment trainings, foreign language and PC courses
and job search counseling support.

do you raise awareness about this issue?
So far ASTRA
conducted or participated in 
eight large-scale anti-trafficking media campaigns “Open Your Eyes” (2002), “There Is a Way Out” (2004), “Save
the Children from Human Trafficking” (2005), “Child Trafficking – Our Reality”
(2006), “Naked Facts” (2008), “Stop Trafficking in Children” (2011), “Labour
Exploitation. Human Trafficking. Serious and Organized Crime” and “Stop Labour
Exploitation” (2012).
Within Prevention and Education Program we have organized or
participated as lecturer in basic and specialized trainings for police
officers, judges and prosecutors, medical doctors, school teachers, social
workers, NGO activists, human rights lawyers and media representatives. Special
attention is paid to work with young people, who are, although broad and
diverse, the category under high risk of trafficking. They are reached out through
workshops, lectures, street actions, peer education, etc. and ASTRA’s activists
seek to be present at all events frequented by young people.
you cooperate with any local authority or institution? If yes, how?
as a leader in the field of combating and suppressing THB in Serbia, ASTRA has participated
in creating national mechanism in this field and on that way made cooperation
with different state actors. Until now, we have signed Memorandum of
Understanding with Ministry of Interior, Public Prosecutor Office and Center
for human trafficking victims protection. For example, in 2016
for the purpose of assistance to (potential)
victims of human trafficking 502
contacts with institutions were made.
SOS consultants were in contact 89
times with social workers, 174 times with the police, 12 times with judiciary,
227 times with Center for human trafficking victims’ protection. As I mentioned
in the previous question, ASTRA organized a great number of trainings and
seminars for all state and nongovernmental actors who are dealing with the
problem of human trafficking.