Jennifer Hollinger

Jennifer Hollinger (CHASTE): Jennifer graduated magna cum laude from Bryn Mawr College. During her junior year she undertook a fellowship in Copenhagen, Denmark with Humanity-in-Action which sparked her interest in international migration and human rights. Jennifer received a Master’s degree in public and international affairs, with a concentration in international development, from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. At the time of her fellowship, Jennifer was pursuing a master’s degree in the Department of Government at Georgetown University and working as a graduate research assistant at the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM). After her fellowship, Jennifer wrote: "This experience helped me to realize that I really can work well with people who are very different from myself in challenging conditions. The skills and insight that I gained will stay with me for years to come and will be helpful both in terms of my career…and for my own personal development."

The Slow Life

05 Jul

In the last few days, temperatures have reached into the 40s. That`s hot, really hot. When it`s hot and sticky out, what do most Albanians do? Wait in endless cues to pay their bills in cash (forget credit cards, nowhere but the highest end hotels in Tirana will accept them), each bill requiring appearing personally before the respective agency or company for whose service they are paying. Then they drink coffee. Lots of coffee. With lots and lots of sugar. Saying that Albanians have a sweet tooth is the mother of all understatements.

Unlike in the United States where you can pay your bills with money that you don`t have without ever venturing out of your house, you must pay your bills in hard currency in Albania. You had also better get up early; many government offices and other companies are open at 8 AM and closed by 130 PM. Some offices reopen from 6-8 PM but, frequently, this reopening happens only on paper or in theory.

Recently, my Albanian colleagues have been helping me to get clearance to visit a major women`s prison in Albania, where, among women arrested for prostitution, there are some trafficking victims. Last month, this process required submitting a passport number to the appropriate government agency and arriving at the door of the prison with one`s passport. We submitted this information before I had even left the United States in May. But the regulations changed again. Now I was required to submit a copy of my passport. Done. Wait, now you are required to submit the offer letter from Advocacy Project so they know what you are doing in Albania. Done. Yesterday, I learned that we must submit a copy of my CV. We are still waiting to find out if I have finally satisfied the requirements.

Things take time in Albania. Rules seem to change overnight for no particular reason. How can anyone keep up with what the new system or the new regulations are? More importantly, how will the new National Referral System for Victims of Trafficking ever be effectively implemented? As much as we may all want change to happen quickly, we must realize that it takes time. We have to be realistic about what the government here can provide and accomplish. This is a poor state and, without outside help, it`s ability to achieve it`s goals is limited.

Who suffers in all of this? The victims of trafficking. They are the ones who do not receive the services they so desperately need. Many trafficked women in Albania, due to poverty and desperation, are actually forced to seek out their traffickers and be retrafficked in order to survive. They don`t do this blindly or out of ignorance, they take a calculated risk. Don`t make the mistake of thinking that trafficking is a problem that happens out there, in Albania, in some other country and it doesn`t happen here (the US, UK, wherever).

During a meeting I had this Wednesday at a prominent charity that operates throughout the world and has an active branch in Tirana, the woman I was interviewing with told me, “the whole world is implicated in trafficking.” There isn`t a country that isn`t touched by the phenomenon, whether it is a country of origin, transit or destination. These women and girls are going somewhere, they are forced into prostitution to satisfy a demand. We have to acknowledge that sex trafficking is a global phenomenon, not an “Albanian problem” and we must work internationally and interorganizationally to end it.

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Posted By Jennifer Hollinger

Posted Jul 5th, 2007


  • Bruce Hollinger

    July 5, 2007


    Glad to hear of your good work and concern for others who are suffering injustice. May God give you wisdom and strength to keep up these pursuits.


  • jennifer

    August 1, 2007


    Dear Bruce,
    Thank you very much for your comment and thank you for reading my blog. I hope that this summer will continue to be a productive experience as well as give me the tools to help those migrants that are most vulnerable.

  • Mark Hollinger

    August 14, 2007


    Dear Jennifer,

    I read your blog with great interest and I’m convinced that you were destined to be an advocate for those children and women whose lives are being controlled by vile and contemptible people. Best of luck with your remaining time there and safe trip home.

    Warm regards,


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