Argument for a Direct Services Program in Cluj County, Romania

Country data shows that direct services currently available to human trafficking victims in the northwestern region of Romania are not sufficiently addressing the needs of the victim, or the extent of the phenomenon. According to this data, a strong need exists for a program in Cluj county with a reintegration framework including shelter, medical and mental-health care, and professional reintegration for adult female victims of human trafficking.

Members of the Anti-Trafficking Department at the Ratiu Center for Democracy conducted research of seven non-governmental organizations and seven public institutions throughout Romania that offer direct services to victims of human trafficking. The research included interviews with directors and service providers in order to obtain information about their services offered, beneficiaries, and methods of operation. Research results show that among NGO’s, 57% offer services to adults, primarily females who were victims of sexual exploitation. The public institutions that were researched offer services to both adults and minors recovering from a wide-range of violations, including all types of trafficking. Nationwide, 86% of organizations and institutions researched offer shelter to victims. Each organization researched offers some type of mental-health counseling, social, and professional reintegration assistance. Other services include medical and legal assistance. However, nationwide there are not enough of the necessary services to meet the number of victims in need of assistance. In fact, there are several areas of high need that are left unattended. Additionally, the majority of interviewed organizations and institutions did not report use of a set framework, or model for therapeutic reintegration that can combine the needed elements of reintegration, and offer them to a victim seeking assistance in a structured and effective manner.

According to the most recent ANITP report, during 2008 and January and February of 2009, there were 1,375 identified victims of human trafficking (including work exploitation, sexual exploitation, and forced begging) from Romania. 426 of these, all female, were trafficked for sexual exploitation (1).

Cluj County is located in the northwestern region of Romania; an area that data suggests is in need of more services available to trafficking victims. The northwestern region also includes Alba, Arad, Bihori, Bistrita-Nasaud, Cluj, Maramures, Mures, Salaj, and Satu Mare County. Within this region, and within the aforementioned time frame, there were 61 identified female victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, 12 of which were from Cluj (a county that currently has no shelter for trafficking victims) (1).

There are a total of 26 shelter beds available to adult victims of human trafficking in the northwestern region, all through public institutions and in only two counties, Arad and Satu Mare. There are currently no non-governmental organizations in the northwestern region offering shelter to adult victims of human trafficking. NGO services offered within the northwest region include: psychological counseling, professional training, medical and legal assistance, reproductive health education and adult education. Other areas of Romania, such as the northeast, offer these services but also have a very high ratio of beds to victims. This highlights an imbalance in the number of victims in these areas in comparison to NGO shelter services.

A program with a defined reintegration framework would offer a means through which victims in the region could more easily participate in existing community services, as well as provide services that are not yet covered in the region. The majority of NGO’s and institutions interviewed used a more unstructured approach to arranging the needed services for their beneficiaries. This presents a disadvantage in situations where the often-changing landscape of social services in Romania can affect which services are available to beneficiaries at a given time. A structured reintegration framework, with service-level agreements for each necessary service would provide a more stable system through which beneficiaries can receive needed services. This framework would include a period of time to focus on self-esteem building and empowering beneficiaries to utilize these services. Further, the professional reintegration process would be approached through a specifically designed program designed to properly prepare victims for lucrative employment.

Given the availability of services for victims of human trafficking, compared to the geographic distribution of identified victims, it is evident that additional services need to be offered in the northwest region of Romania. Based on the research represented above, it is also clear that victims of human trafficking could benefit greatly from a program in this region that combines the necessary elements of reintegration in a structured framework.


(1). Report: ‘Fenomul Social Al Traficului de Persoane Analiza Cantitativa Pentru Anul 2008 si Primele Doua Lune Ale Anului 2009’, Serviciul Monitorizare, Evaluare, Cercetare a Traficului de Persoane, 01.01.2008-23.02.2009.