Capacity building and helping victims of human trafficking in the border region.
Hungarian Baptist Aid and their Austrian partner organization LEFÖ-IBF launched their joint project LUCIA against human trafficking on September 1st, 2013.
Principal Activities of the Project
- Developing a strategy for identifying and reaching out to those affected by work exploitation
- Implementing two research programs in the partner countries concerning work exploitation and the use of coercion as a means of procuring labour force
- An exchange of experience between the partners
- Setting up a network of experts in the border region to facilitate helping the victims
- Establishing and operating a coordination centre for the purpose of helping victims
- Establishing a temporary home for the victims
LEFÖ-IBF has been helping victims of human trafficking since 1998, and they are an acknowledged victim support centre, as regards their status. In Austria, they are the sole actor entitled to yield psychosocial and legal assistance to (female) victims of human trafficking. Under Austria’s Sicherheitspolizeigesetz and the Law on Conducting Criminal Prosecutions, police forces are required to notify them when a victim is identified. They are also the ones authorized to provide psychosocial help to victims by deploying their lawyers and other staff members during interrogations and judicial proceedings.
13% of the victims of human trafficking in Austria are Hungarians. Although those affected (mostly women) do get some help and support on both sides of the border, still, repatriating Hungarian victims requires a close cooperation between the experts of the two countries. Both partners face the problem of a significant lack of professionals (especially police personnel, lawyers, medical doctors, psychologists) prepared for the task of caring for, informing and helping victims. LEFÖ-IBF is often confronted by the problem of not being able to secure assistance for Hungarian victims after their arrival home because of an absence of contact with Hungarian professionals. The number of those affected is high enough for Baptist Aid to work involving even more domestic professionals in their activities with the purpose of being able to offer an efficient kind of help.
The target group of the project is constituted by victims of human trafficking and the professionals who come into contact with them in the course of their work. In connection with Hungarian women and girls, the primary association in the context of human trafficking is with sexual exploitation in the public opinion. However, there is also a smaller number of men (1-2% among those arriving under the care of LEFÖ-IBF and HBAid) affected by such a situation. Besides this, statistics from LEFÖ show that a significant proportion of the victims are exploited through the use of their work force (e.g. as household workers). Those affected are directed to IBF in Austria and to HBAid in Hungary primarily by the police. HBAid anticipate that as the application of the statutory definition of the felony of forced labour and exploitation, included in the Hungarian Penal Code in force since July 1st, 2013, gains ground, it will create opportunities for establishing contact with an increasingly greater number of victims (many of them probably men).