Trafficking of Women and Girls
Since the first victim of trafficking for sexual exploitation approached us in 2006, the Immigrant Council has developed specific expertise on the trafficking of migrant women for sexual exploitation. This area remains a priority focus for the Immigrant Council, given that more than 90% of prostituted people are migrant women and girls.
We are working to end trafficking by providing support to migrant women (including members of the Trans community), as well as migrant men who find themselves victims of labour exploitation. We also campaign to end sexual exploitation by reducing the demand from consumers and monitor international developments to ensure we support victims in the best and most effective way possible.
Our work on human trafficking is informed by the fact that trafficking is a prominent form of gender-based violence against women (Directive 2012/29/EU). We consider prostitution as the environment for sex trafficking of migrant women and girls.
We provide legal services and lead integration and policy campaigns benefitting trafficked migrant women in Ireland, including women exploited in the sex industry or through forced marriages.
We are gender-specific in our work and have accumulated extensive expertise in direct legal representation of trafficked women, of policy interpretation and strategic litigation in this area. In our legal services to victims, we have adopted the principle of early and holistic legal intervention, due to the extreme vulnerability and the legal complexities such migrant women face.
Know the signs of human trafficking
Our short animation helps explain what the signs of human trafficking look like so you can know how to recognise it and what to do.
Leaflet for Women
Leaflet: ASSIST WOMEN - We are here to SUPPORT & ASSIST trafficked migrant women
Download our leaflet that talks about what is human trafficking, how to recognise it when it’s happening, and what supports are available to help victims of trafficking in Ireland.
Early Legal Intervention
The principle of Early Legal Intervention was developed by the Immigrant Council and other partners within a transnational EU initiative led by us.
Unfortunately, the current State process of identification of victims of trafficking runs contrary to the principle of early intervention. The Immigrant Council uses litigation efforts and also collaborates with other Irish specialist organisations and the State authorities to improve the process and bring it up to international standards.
The Government has made a number of significant commitments in the Second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking in Ireland and provided a clear opportunity and mandate to act with commencement of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017. We will continue to work to ensure the recommendations and legal obligations are implemented, while also seeking action on a variety of associated concerns.
We have led and participated in numerous transnational EU-funded projects, funded under the EU ISEC, EU ISF and EU AMIF, and we are an active member of the EU Civil Society Platform on Trafficking.
Informed by our legal work and research, we actively campaign for better protection of women and girls affected by sexual exploitation and trafficking. Over the years, we have prepared numerous submissions and authored quality research on the subject, which are available in the publications section of our website.
Assisting trafficked women
The Immigrant Council led a transnational EU-funded project focusing on the Gender-specific legal assistance and integration support to trafficked migrant women, the ASSIST project. We have joined forces with five feminist organisations across Europe to develop improved approaches to integration for trafficked women recovering from sexual exploitation. As a result of this project we developed Best Practice Principles of Gender-Specific Assistance, applicable to Ireland and the other EU Member States.
The Coalesce project is a 2 year-long initiative starting October 2020 between 9 organisations across the EU. It is an evolution of the Immigrant Council's previous project called ASSIST (Gender Specific Legal Assistance and Integration Support for Third Country National Female Victims of Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation), adding a new economic dimension to the research and service provision of supports for trafficked women.
Empowering survivors of trafficking
In our work on trafficking, we are trying to involve former victims of trafficking who have recovered well and are advancing their integration. This avant-garde work with survivors demonstrated promising results in a pilot project Peer-to-Peer support to trafficked migrant women. The Framework guiding the pilot has been shared widely among the specialised civil society organisations in the EU.
Housing trafficked women
The Immigrant Council tirelessly campaign for gender-specific accommodation for trafficked women. Read our latest submission Housing Trafficked Women in Ireland.
The policy of housing victims of trafficking in direct provision centres is especially inappropriate for women recovering from sexual violence.
As part of the Moving On project (funded by the Dormant Account Fund) we trained the direct provision staff and developed booklets that are designed to inform and protect, targeting: staff working in direct provision centres, victims of trafficking and general female population in direct provision.
Exploitative marriages and trafficking
We remain alert to the newer forms of gender-based exploitation of migrant women that is linked to human trafficking. An example of this is our partnership on a transnational research project HESTIA exploring the intersection between trafficking of women and exploitative marriages.
We also produced a country report on exploitative sham marriages.
Demand for trafficking and prostitution
We also seek to address the systemic factors that drive the horrific trade in women, such as demand by customers, which we researched as part of the project STOP TRAFFICK! Tackling demand for sexual services of trafficked women and girls, a transnational EU project we led. We are currently monitoring the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act 2017, which aims to prevent sex trafficking by discouraging the demand from buyers of sex.
Our EU-funded project Disrupt Demand allowed us to exchange expertise and knowledge on the use of legislation to tackle demand and reduce trafficking with other partners across the EU.
Beyond Exploitation is Ireland’s civil society campaign for equality and freedom from sexual exploitation. Led by National Women’s Council, with partner organisations Ruhama and the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the campaign supports the most vulnerable and silenced people in prostitution to have a voice.
Beyond Exploitation advocates for policies and measures that give all women and girls a real choice not to be bought or sold for sex.
Asylum-seeking victims of trafficking
Among our priority areas is the discriminatory treatment towards asylum seeking victims of trafficking, which we identify as especially vulnerable. In our EU project, TRACKS, we partnered with other international specialist organisations to identify the special needs of such women in the asylum process (see our report and toolkit).
In February 2020 we were delighted to announce the launch of a new trans-European project TRIPS (TRafficked International Protection beneficiaries’ Special needs), which brings together organisations from France, Italy, the Czech Republic and Ireland. The TRIPS initiative explores the unique needs of victims of human trafficking who are recipients of international protection in Ireland.
It is the second phase of the TRACKS project focussing on the links between asylum and trafficking.
Looking for help?
If you or someone you know is a victim of trafficking in Ireland, you are not alone. There are free supports and resources available to help trafficked women escape exploitation and reclaim their lives.