Mary Ward Loreto Women Advice Centre in Tirana.
MWL Women ACT has been working with a foreign victim of exploitation for forced labour in Albania. This case was resolved successfully, and the victim has been repatriated to the origin country. As a society, we need to become more aware and alert to exploitation of foreigners for forced labour in Albanian companies, and the inadequate protection of these victims in Albania.
Albania is known for being an origin country for trafficking in human beings, mostly for Albanians being exploited within and outside the country. Recently, there is a growing trend of exploitation of foreign citizens who come to Albania for job opportunities. The victims end up being exploited for forced labour within the companies. They find themselves in a job that requires longer hours and lower wages than agreed upon on the working contracts.
It all starts by signing regular work contracts through regular intermediary hiring agencies, but the reality that these foreign workers face in Albania is very different from what they have signed for. Although they want to leave, they cannot, due to threats by the employer. Language barriers and total lack of orientation towards services in Albania makes them more vulnerable and helpless to the forced labour situation.
Trafficking is often considered only an issue of sexual exploitation, when in reality, forced labour is a very common element of the phenomenon. There is a lack of awareness of service providers for this serious crime, which leads to inadequate services for the victims.
Our efforts to address and improve services for this element of trafficking are challenging, but we are happy to be a help for the victims, Albanians and foreigners alike.