Moldova: UN Trust Fund supports provision of legal assistance to victims of human trafficking
When Dana read an ad from a travel agency inviting Moldovan women to spend a summer in Italy working as waitresses in a nightclub, she didn't think twice before seizing the opportunity. The 19-year old had long dreamed of going to Italy, now she could do so - and even earn good money. Dana responded to the ad and soon made the fateful journey from her country, nestled between Ukraine and Romania, west to Italy. Upon arrival, her expectations were immediately shattered - she found herself trapped in a nightmare.
Locked up, deprived of food, and forced into prostitution, Dana became one of the estimated 2.4 million people who are trapped in modern-day slavery at any given time. Caught in a web of sexual exploitation, she constantly feared her life.
After months enduring this torture and in a rare stroke of luck, police freed Dana during a raid on a brothel where Dana worked. She was sent back to Moldova.
Once safely home, Dana turned to a local NGO, the Institute for Democracy, to find out more about her rights - and to make sure she never found herself in that horrific situation again.
As part of its objectives, the Institute for Democracy works to protect human rights, and fights trafficking and violence. In 2011, the NGO, supported by funding from the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking, launched a project to provide legal assistance to human trafficking victims such as Dana. Within this project, the NGO opened a Centre for Legal Assistance to Trafficking Victims in Comrat, and a legal hotline for victims.
The Centre provides on-site legal advice to human trafficking victims, or their families or friends, and runs the hotline in collaboration with a local lawyer's office, where victims are advised anonymously and without charge. It also works to prevent trafficking by providing information about the risks of accepting employment abroad and steers potential recruits away from dubious ads or opportunities that sound too good to be true.
Between its inauguration in mid-November last year and the end of February, the Centre counselled 84 people. During that time, the hotline received 64 calls.
The Institute for Democracy's legal assistance has helped to reintegrate Dana into the community and has facilitated her access to the psychological help she needs to heal her wounds.
Through its work directly with and on behalf of victims, the centre is an important element in combating trafficking from one of the world's primary origin countries for human trafficking victims.
The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund, managed by UNODC, was officially launched in 2010 by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and through its Small Grants Facility supports the provision of on-the-ground humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of trafficking. The Institute for Democracy is one of the group of 12 organizations that all received funding in October 2011 through the Trust Fund's Small Grants Facility.