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2020 (Narrative date)

There are an estimated 23,000 people in modern slavery in Belgium (GSI 2018). People are subjected to sex and labour trafficking in the country, with foreign-born people coming primarily from Asia, Eastern Europe, North and Sub-Saharan Africa. Labour traffickers exploit men in restaurants, bars, sweatshops, horticulture, fruit farms, construction, cleaning businesses and retail shops, they also exploit foreign workers in domestic servitude. Sex trafficker exploit Belgian girls, some of whom recruited by local pimps, and foreign children, including Roma. Forced begging within the Romani community in Belgium also occurs, while asylum seekers often have their applications for legal status denied, increasing their vulnerability to trafficking.

P was in high school when she fell in love with a boy who convinced her to go to Belgium with him. Upon arrival, he became abusive and trafficked P for six months across the country. P was finally able to escape and find shelter with people who helped her return to Albania.

When I was a senior in high school here in Tirana, I met a boy who did not go to my school. He was kind, attractive, and treated me well. After a time, we fell in love with each other -- or so I thought at the time. He was my "first love," and I hadn't had much experience with boys romantically prior to that.

After dating for a time, he convinced me to go to Belgium with him. He said that he could get a good job there and told me about what a wonderful place it was: how clean, how beautiful, and how many opportunities there would be there for us. He proposed to me, and our plan was to leave Albania illegally (since we would not qualify for visas) and get married once he found work there. I was in love, and I believed him.

Once we got to Belgium, however, he totally changed. He became abusive of me and violated me many times. He threatened my life and the lives of my family members. I did not speak the language there and was totally dependent on him; I had nowhere else to go and was afraid. He trafficked me for 6 months. I don't want to talk anymore about that time. It was the worst period in my life. It is now in my past, and I have closed that door behind me. 

I was able to find a shelter there with people to help me return to Albania. I wanted to return to my family here, but my father would not accept me and was abusive of me and my mother. My mother decided to leave my father to help me, even though this is something unheard of in Albania for a woman to leave her husband. Women here can't really find work to support themselves and have to rely on their fathers or husbands for their livelihood. My mother gave up everything for me, and for this I am grateful.

After living in the shelter for as long as we were allowed, my mother and I are now living together and trying to support ourselves.


Narrative courtesy of the Association for Albanian Girls and Women

The organisation’s True Stories of trafficking survivors can be found here