Italian NGO uses Cultural Mediators to Aide Trafficking Victims
Monday, August 29, 2005 9:30 AM

The Transnational AIDs Prevention Among Migrant Prostitutes, TAMPEP, is an Italian NGO that provides assistance to women that have been trafficked to Italy from other countries, especially Nigeria. The organization sends out "street units, that include cultural mediators" to establish contact with the trafficking victims and offer health education and testing. The cultural mediators often have the same background as the victims and are better able to communicate with them by creating a connection and easing fears that the police or other authority figures are corrupt. For those victims that take advantage of the testing and education at the clinic, social workers also provide information about their rights and alternative options.

The combination of the use of cultural mediators and the legal protection that Italy offers "may explain why Italian authorities are able to reach more victims of trafficking than any other country in Europe." Italian law makes available a special residency permit for victims of trafficking provide information to the police. There is a similar law in the US, but unlike the US, in Italy the victims are not required to "cooperate in a criminal investigation or publicly denounce their traffickers."

Evidence indicates that obtaining victim cooperation leads to more arrests and convictions of traffickers. An estimated 3000 trafficking victims entered Italy in 2004. Nearly two-thirds of them received social protection. In contrast, the U.S. government estimates that "between 14,500 and 17,000 victims of trafficking enter the U.S. per year." In 2004, the government only issued 136 temporary resident permits to trafficking victims, who are expected to seek out help on their own. In 2004, Italy arrested 537 people on trafficking charges and convicted 41. The U.S. prosecuted 59 for sexual exploitation in the same year.

Cited in: "Italian Group Uses 'Street Units' to Protect Victims of Sex Trafficking," AdvocacyNet News Bulletin, No. 44, 24 August 2005.