Three Norwegian social workers visited TAMPEP today and will return tomorrow, as part of a week long tour of prostitution and trafficking in Torino. This was a really great opportunity for me to learn (on my second day at TAMPEP) a great deal about the trafficking phenomenon in Europe (and to get information in English without having to be the one who asks for translation)
The Norwegians came to Torino because, as they told me, “Italy has a reputation in Europe for having the best system”
On Monday, the United States published its annual blurbs on the world–a sketch of already known facts about trafficking for people who work in the field. While the US chooses to exclude itself from the assessment, manifesting a distorted image of itself as the top authority and exemplar of best practices, I had the opportunity to experience EU countries representing their roles in relation to the international community.
Europe is actively learning from the variety of policies toward prostitution that are collectively at work. There are places in Europe where it is all legal, all illegal, and only illegal for buyers, and throughout, the conditions and allocation of services vary widely.
These differences are a subject of international debate, and national organizations are reevaluating their policies because human trafficking has radically changed the face and state of prostitution in the western world.
The visitors from Norway work in organizations that provide services similar to those of TAMPEP–minus those outlined by Article 18. There is no family reunification (bravo USA!) and there is no real exit strategy, hence their visit to Italy.
Most of the girls that the Norwegians work with have lived in Italy, then maybe Spain or some other European country in between. There is a rumor circulating through the network of migrant prostitutes in Europe that there are many available jobs and the chance for a good life in Norway…the dream lives on and it is only three or four countries to the north.
When the permit of stay is issued to women in Italy and they begin the reintegration program, work is not often available. When they receive the work permit, work is still hard to find because, as it turns out, a big problem in Italy is a lack of housing and work. Most women will find that work is not available, or that they can not support dependent families in their home country on the stipend afforded to a hotel maid.
The permit of stay means you are free to go, so many of them do. It is a valid form of documentation in order to travel in Europe. So they go to Norway to find a job. We know this because the Norwegian organizations represented by the individuals at TAMPEP today are who finds them.
When they arrive in Norway with yet again the dream of a new life, based on some rumor of jobs that never seems to apply to them, they find that the stay permit that got them into the country legally does not permit them to work legally. They end up back in prostitution.
Our Norwegian friends explained that in Norway there are actually many available jobs–if you have legal documentation, but there is also no reintegration program. The opposite is true in Italy. Due to the purpose of the social workers’ visit, I think Norway may soon be integrating a great number of trafficked migrants into their job market.
Posted By Anya Gorovets (Italy)
Posted Jun 9th, 2006