News/BULGARIA: ROUNDTABLE ON FIGHT AGAINST TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN KICKS OFF.

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Subject: News/BULGARIA: ROUNDTABLE ON FIGHT AGAINST TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN KICKS OFF.
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Thu Apr 20 2000 - 13:22:19 EDT


3-15-00 BULGARIA: ROUNDTABLE ON FIGHT AGAINST TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN KICKS
OFF.
Sofia, March 15 (BTA) - A roundtable on coordination between state
authorities and NGOs in fight against the trafficking of women kicked off
Wednesday at the American Cultural Centre in Sofia.
The idea is to draft a National Action Plan in this area as soon as 2001,
said Nadezhda Stoicheva of the Association Animus Foundation which is
affiliated with event-organizer - the La Strada international programme.
Representatives of the International Organization on Migration, the Health
and Social Environment and Women's Alliance for Development foundations,
the Labour and Social Policy Ministry, the Border Police National Service
and of the National service for Organized Crime Control.
It is estimated that some 10,000 Bulgarian females have been lured to go
aboard and prostitute in countries like Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Albania,
Italy and the Czech Republic, Stoicheva said. According to data of La
Strada, at least 3,000 Bulgarian women work the streets in Poland. After
soliciting help from the Association Animus Foundation, a total of 150
females managed to free themselves from the clutches of organized crime in
1999 and come home. The number of those who do not seek assistance and try
to manage by themselves is much greater, Stoicheva said. Another alarming
trend noted by the Foundation is the increasing number of 14-year-olds that
are illegally transferred abroad. Less women fall victims to organized
trafficking in regions where the police is actively present and their
number is greater in regions hardest hit by unemployment, Nadya
Kozhouharova of the La Strada programme said.
In 1999 alone, the Border Police has detained a total of 1,229 women for
whom there was information that they had been sexually victimized. Of
those, 561 were Romanian and the rest came from Moldova, Ukraine and
Bulgaria, Georgi Tonchev of the National Border Police Service said. During
the first two months of 2000 alone, the Border Police has detained 162
women who were supposed to be transferred abroad. In 1999, the border
police officers referred to the court 2,353 cases of violation of Article
409 of which number 786 offenders have been convicted under Article 279 of
the Penal Code for trafficking of people.
The trafficking of women is a two-stage process, Kozhouharova said. The
first stage was is advertising vacancies for ballet dancers, dancers,
waitresses and au-pairs and the second stage takes place once the women are
transferred abroad when they are forced to prostitute under the threat of
assault, molesting and rape.
A survey conducted by the International Organization on Migration among
1,068 girls yielded alarming results. As many as 20 per cent of the
respondents were unaware of the trafficking of women; 17 per cent do not
think it is too risky to respond to an advertisement about a job as a
dancer in Italy and 25 per cent of the respondents would take the job even
if they know that it is illegal.
The Labour and Social Policy Ministry is also trying to curtail the
opportunities for illegal trafficking by introducing a licensing regime for
companies recruiting personnel for work abroad, Verzhin Tebeyan of the
Ministry said. The names of companies that have been granted such licences
can be found at all job centres and anyone who is interested in working
abroad should consult them to avoid being cheated, she said. GG/LY/IT/
18:05:27 15-03-2000 -0-.
Copyright Bulgarian News Agency.
Phone: ++359 2 981 6222; 84 61; 884 240; 987 7739
Email: main@bta.bg
Web site: www.bta.bg.net.
BULGARIAN NEWS AGENCY 15/03/2000


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