People trafficking refers to all activities related to recruiting or transporting people within the territory of one country, or outside its borders, with the purpose of doing work or services, accompanied by violence or threat of violence, humiliation, financial dependence, fraud or other form of constraints. Recent statistics show that trafficking of people affects 4 million humans around the world, including 300,000 women from Eastern Europe and it is estimated to be worth at least 3 billion US dollars annually.
While the problem of trafficking of women and girls is not new, it has increased in Bulgaria since the fall of communism and has proven hard to restrain. Women and girls from rural areas and small cities and those coming out of orphanages are particularly vulnerable as their poor economic prospects often make offers of jobs abroad too attractive to turn down. The influence of organized crime in Bulgaria and the related problem of corruption among public officials and law enforcement bodies further complicate efforts to deal with people trafficking.
As in many poor countries, finding a decent job in Bulgaria is not an easy task. You need more skills, education or persistence, because there is a strong competition for one good position. The situation is even worse for young Bulgarian girls who are the most vulnerable targets of people traffickers who mercilessly exploit their naivety and desire for a better life. Most victims do not have a good education, do not know how to use a computer and do not speak a foreign language. They are young, they have dreams and they want at least enough money to buy new shoes along with basic necessities such as food.
Quite often these vulnerable groups have no other way of knowing what a proposal from people traffickers really means. In most cases, they cannot even recognize that various guises used by traffickers and are often mislead to believe that once they accept an offer for working abroad that their future will bring them success and riches. These groups simply do not know how to identify risky situations that they may be exposed to. We in Face to Face, having worked with a lot of youths throughout Bulgaria, have seen repeatedly the surprised looks on these vulnerable groups? faces when we tell them of real life cases of similar girls and boys that have gone down the path of seeking a better future by a trafficker.
Face to Face philosophy is based on the belief that prevention is much more effective than trying to fix the deep scares that people trafficking can cause. One can only imagine the long-term psychological and physical scares that victims of trafficking and especially sex-trafficking carry throughout their life. We also believe that we need to make our target groups more aware that this phenomenon exists in Bulgaria and that they too can become victims. Also, we want to show to these young people that there are other ways in which they can achieve their dreams and desires but they just need to know where and how to get help.