Since its foundation in March 2001, the NGO International Centre for Protection and Promotion of Women's rights “La Strada” is one of the leading actors within the Moldovan anti-trafficking community. A handful of defenders of women's rights in those initial times very soon gathered a staff of 16 persons and a team of 25 volunteers - all of them eager to combat trafficking in human beings and to offer professional and sustainable support.
At present - in its capacity of an NGO - La Strada undertakes preventive, assistance, and lobbying activities, aimed at ensuring the protection of rights and legal interests of vulnerable social groups at all levels - individual, legal and executive. For already a decade, the public information activities of La Strada Moldova are contributing to safe migration and prevention of trafficking in human beings, domestic violence and sexual exploitation of children for commercial purposes. Thus it succeeded to acquire the name of an active and professional NGO with a high reputation, recognised not only at the national level but also at the regional and international level. La Strada Moldova is a member of the National Committee on combating trafficking in human beings and a member of the Coordinating Committee on preventing and combating domestic violence. It is a founding member of the International La Strada Association, a member of ECPAT and GAATW and other international bodies in the area.
Trafficking in human beings
Pursuing its vision, La Strada Moldova works to achieve a society in which human rights and equal opportunities for men and women are properly observed. Lately, the organisation has extended the scope of its work to also include domestic violence. Recently it started working also on prevention of commercial sexual exploitation of children. The organisation carries out information, prevention and lobby activities aimed to contribute to the decrease and elimination of these phenomena.
Prevention and combating of trafficking in human beings continues to be objective number one of the organisation's activity. It starts with counselling of people intending to go abroad via the Hot Line service, on issues dealing with the safe migration and risks of becoming a victim of trafficking in human beings and goes up to facilitating the access of trafficked persons to protection and assistance. In its work in this area, La Strada Moldova organises awareness campaigns among the general public, peer-to-peer educational seminars for young people and trainings for different professional groups (teachers, social workers, police officers, border guards and local administration bodies) and conducts national and international conferences.
The results of a deep analysis of the phenomenon of trafficking in human beings and our experience in this area along with the statements of the trafficked persons brought the conclusion that domestic violence is a major root cause for human trafficking. About 80% of interviewed female victims of trafficking from 2005 to 2010 confirmed that they had experienced violence in their own family (physical, psychological and sexual). In view of that the conclusions was drawn that many victims accept the perpetrators' offer in their hope of finding a refuge from the violence nightmare and of having a better life. Unfavourable family relations have a negative influence also on the rehabilitation and social reintegration of victims at they return to their country. Thus, in 2008 a rapid evaluation of the phenomenon in Moldova was carried out, with the purpose to identify actors, initiatives and actions organised in this context, as well as the drawbacks and gaps in the prevention of domestic violence. On 2 November 2009 the Confident Telephone Number 0 8008 8008 was installed, which constitutes a special service facilitating the psychological counselling of victims of domestic violence. It also contributes to a deep analysis of the profile of persons subject to domestic violence and their needs. By conducting campaigns of this kind the organisation seeks to raise awareness on this issue among Moldovan society. The educational activities targeted to young people are meant to educate a different, non-violent style of life.
Commercial sexual exploitation of children
Addressing commercial sexual exploitation of children, is a separate activity, which La Strada Moldova started, after it became clear from government and NGO reports that the percentage of minors affected by human trafficking went up from 10% in 1998-1999 to 20% in 2009. It was in 2010 when, by launching a social advertising spot La Strada Moldova for the first time drew the attention of society to this form of child abuse. A number of other activities followed to draw the attention of society to the on-line child abuse for purposes of recruitment/involvement of children and teenagers into the commercial sexual exploitation, including to the exploitation by foreign citizens. The awareness campaigns have triggered numerous responses and signals regarding these issues. The issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children is now a major part of LS Moldova's work.