Albania Mission Against
Human Trafficking

MARY WARD LORETO is planting hope with a human rights approach to combating modern day slavery. This challenging mission is implemented through works of justice, education, grass roots action and systemic change. The aim is to eradicate poverty, the prime cause for human trafficking.

Selma was born in a small village. When she was a little child she used to be hopeful about her future, about having a career, and finding a good husband when she would grow up. Her dreams started to fade after her 12th birthday when she was not allowed to go to school anymore, and was not free to meet her friends. She realized that as a girl, her role was to do the house work, and that it was her father who would choose a husband for her.

When she was 23 years old, Selma met and fell in love with Albert. He used to be very gentle, and promised to marry her. She told her family about her boyfriend and sought their approval to marry him. Her parents blamed her for not respecting the honour of the family, and beat her badly when she told them that Albert belonged to another religion.

While her family was planning an engagement for her, she planned her escape with her boyfriend. Albert told her that he had a good friend in Greece who would help them with accommodation until he found a job. When they arrived in Greece, they met his friend in a bar, had a drink and a normal conversation. So Selma had nothing to doubt about.

While Selma thought they were driving home, Albert turned to her and said: “You have to go with him and do what he tells you to do”. Albert then left the car. Selma was terrified and started to shout for help and tried to open the door of the car, but the driver hit her and told to be silent, otherwise he would kill her. They arrived at an old building, where other girls were. He brought her into a small room with just a bed and a mirror, and raped her. “This is what will happen to you every day” he said and left the room.

Selma was being resistant to the first client, but he complained to the “boss”. She was beaten so badly that she could hardly move for three days. Then she had at least 3 or 4 clients a day for 14 months. She was not allowed refuse anybody. There was no way to escape. There were no windows and the doors were very high and always locked.

“Sometimes we could hear the traffickers talking and planning how to get rid of us in case we did not make enough money. They said they would kill us, burn us or throw us in the river. None of us wanted to be beaten and murdered so we had to try hard”.

Selma thinks he was part of the trafficking group, but one man saved her. She does not even know his name. For two months, Selma begged him to help her, but without any response. Then one night, when she less expected it, he told her to run from the backdoor and not to stop until she found herself very far from the house. She did so and   she ran for two hours. She was very thirsty and asked a woman for some water. The woman gave her water, helped seat her and then called the police.

Few months later, Selma called her family to let them know that she was alive and she would want to come back home. Her father replied “For us you are already dead”. That was a shock for her, but she kept moving ahead. At least she was free! Now she is working hard for her emotional recuperation and starting to build dreams for her future.