Born in Albania, Adelina was trafficked within the country. Many women are trafficked into richer Western European countries from the poorer Eastern countries, including Albania. The fall of communism in 1991 led to a rise in organized crime in Albania: in 2001 it was estimated 100,000 Albanian women and girls had been trafficked to Western European and other Balkan countries in the preceding ten years. More than 65 percent of Albanian sex-trafficking victims are minors at the time they are trafficked, and at least 50 percent of victims leave home under the false impression that they will be married or engaged to an Albanian or foreigner and live abroad. Another ten percent are kidnapped or forced into prostitution. The women and girls receive little or no pay for their work, and are commonly tortured if they do not comply.
There are an estimated 20,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Albania (GSI 2018). An estimated 10% of girls in Albania are married before their eighteenth birthday, with child marriage most common among the Roma ethnic group and in poor, isolated and rural areas. Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and while country has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the UN Sustainable development goals, no progress has been reported thus far. Human traffickers also exploit domestic and foreign victims in Albania, and traffickers exploit victims from Albania abroad. Traffickers exploit Albanian women and children in sex trafficking and forced labor within the country, especially during tourist season. Traffickers use false promises such as marriage or employment offers to force victims into sex trafficking. Traffickers exploit Albanian victims in sex trafficking in countries across Europe, particularly Kosovo, Greece, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, North Macedonia, Norway, the Netherlands, and the UK. Albanian migrants who seek employment in Western Europe face forced labor and forced criminality, particularly in the UK. When she was a young girl A’s mother left her father for another man. Too poor to look after her, A’s mother sent her to live with a neighbours’ family who, while treating her well at first, began to withhold food and exploit her. She stayed there for one year before returning to live with her mother who, after spending some time begging, had been forced in to prostitution by a man who had promised to help her get a better house. A’s mother’s boyfriend began sexually abusing her, and when a friend found out, he hit the boyfriend with his car. A began working as a prostitute at the age of 13, thinking she was helping her mother who was too ill to work. One day A met a man who took her to a convent in Italy who referred her to a shelter where she was helped build a better life.
There are an estimated 145,000 people liing in conditions of modern slavery in Italy (GSI 2018). Italy is a destination, transit, and source country for women, children, and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. Victims originate from Nigeria, Romania, Morocco, China, and other countries. Female victims are often subjected to sex trafficking in Italy after accepting promises of employment as dancers, singers, models, restaurant servers, or caregivers. Romanian and Albanian criminal groups force Eastern European women and girls into commercial sex. E.R. was 15 when she was forced to marry a man she did not know over twice her age. After leaving her forced marriage, she was disowned by her family and forced into prostitution in Italy by a man she believed loved her. E.R. was subjected to rape and beatings daily before she was rescued by a friend and taken back to Albania. However, E.R. has been unable to leave prostitution in her attempts to look after her son.