By Mirela Milori
“If one day you will knock on my door”…none of Albanians, who watched about 15 years ago the Italian film with this title in the sole state TV, thought that during the 13 transition years, hundreds of Albanian families would suffer the fate of the trafficked girl or the one gone away in Europe’s streets as a prostitute; none believed that hundreds of parents would whisper to themselves, while praying for the girls lost, none knew where: “If only she came again at home…!!!?”
I was 16 years old, I was walking somewhere near Youth Park, a car braked strongly near me and I do not remember how I ended in it. Later, I woke in Vlora and further they took me abroad. I passed 2 darkest years of my life, compelling me to prostitute for someone who exploited me and sold me some times to win money.
We are very poor at home. My mother is divorced and she is married again. I lived with my stepfather. I was 15 when I got to know a boy from my village. He promised to marry me, he came to my family and asked me foe a wife. My mother and the stepfather immediately consented but I also loved him. I wanted to leave poverty. He took me to Italy and brought me on the streets. I accepted that job because I loved him and I wanted to gain some money, but he gave me nothing and when I started to ask for money he beat me.
My mother died when I was small. Father drank and beat me continuously; I still have cicatrices of his violence on my body. I left with the first who required me. After I worked as a prostitute in Italy for some time, he sold me to another and I ended in Kosovo. After months in bars, my new tutor closed me in the house after my attempt to leave. I experienced unimaginable violence (she shows the cicatrices of knife cuts and the cigarettes pressed on the body). The stories are different, the fate is the same. Poverty, lack of schooling, family crises, or simply profit hunger, might be the first instigation to trafficking the girls’ contingent – victims of trafficking. Such a phenomenon is no longer a new thing for our opinion. Many hurry to give statistics and figures for Albanian girls or women, which prostitute in Europe’s streets, forgetting that, more important for these victim girls is their life after coming back…
I like to read, I would very much like to attend the university and to become somebody so that when I create my family (if I will manage to do it sometime), be like the rest.
I want to learn a craft, become a dressmaker and stylist. Thus I will help my family.
I am sick by violence, I would like to recover first, later…we will see…!
It is some years now that in Tirana and Vlora some shelters have been created which deal with the trafficked girls’ rehabilitation, shelters supported by non governmental organizations. Since February 2002 until September 2003, 116 Albanian girls have been aided and systemized; they have taken part in schooling and employment programs. 60 % of them have been included I training courses, 50 % have been systematized in work, whereas 5 % were given schooling possibility.
The majority of Albanian girls belong to age group 14- 20, from which 34 % are minors, 14 until 18. One of the supplying and transit countries of human beings trafficking, Albania has often been turned into a diving board for traffickers, which have passed toward west Europe thousands of foreign girls, mainly from East. Only in Tirana, during 2002, 29 have been systemized, whereas in 2003, 86 girls have received the proper assistance. After they pass the rehabilitation period in a shelter, all the foreign girls are sent back to their countries. 46 % of the girls assisted in shelters have been recruited by traffickers promising marriage, 28 % of the cases have been kidnapped by violence, 19 % of the girls have been promised wok, whereas 6 % have been promised to join the family. Mira’s story is the most frequent, marriages with promises of life and dreams overseas, take the wrong way in the old continent’s streets.
Since the moment when the trafficked girl contacts police, she is under state protection. Though police help the girls with assistance very often these girls are again a target of traffickers, who though denounced, do not always receive the punishment foreseen by the law. The problem is stuck is prosecution and the court, where not rarely, it happens that the testimonies and the evidence are insufficient and the case is closed. This is the most dangerous moment for the girl who dared “to open” problems to the former tutor. Therefore protection of traffic victims in shelters and change of identity is the only way to save them.
On July 14, 2003, the entire public opinion got to know the testimony of a 13 years old girl from Mirdita, Albana Prenga, who descended from the remote areas together with her father, Zef Prenga, to denounce publicly not only the traffickers but also the judges and the investigators who cooperated with them and set them free. She left the village together with her family to go to a small town in the Middle Albania, but always with the anxiety of insecurity for the next day and expecting the promises given by USAID and the Civil Society. Though she has continuously had the support of the Nationwide Reconciliation Committee, she hopes only in USAID Director, Harry Birnholz, who benevolently and in a determined way to help her in every moment, gave her also a business card that she keeps in her hand full of trust. Her words in the media were the clearest testimony of this painful reality.
Though the phenomenon has become known during the 13 years, again mentality is still wild. Albanian family nailed by the moral, economic crises and above all by the opinion, often, closes the doors for the girl who dishonored them in the eyes of the world.
It was difficult for my family to accept me, but my parents were convinced that it was not my wish to take to the streets.
My mother and my younger brother come and meet me sometimes in the shelter, secretly. My stepfather does not know that I have come back. I do not know how long I will remain in the shelter but I will never return home because if I go back there I know I will take to the streets again…
I will never return to my father…
MORE THAN ACCEPTANCE…
Statistics show that the “fortunate” ones which had the possibility to contact non governmental associations, after they have escaped the traffic Calvary. But more are those girls, which after being returned in Rinas or Durres, are in the dilemma to return where they were or take the way home, with the big question mark, “Will they open the door for me?...”. Hundreds are those who after having “worked” somewhere in Italy, Greece, Belgium or elsewhere, come back home , where dishonored mother or father and they pray only for one thing, “Now that I will knock again on their door, God willing they open it…!!!