Since 2008, in Armenia there have been 8 official cases of trafficking in children, resulted in suffering of 11 youngsters, as declared by Tatevik Bezhanyan, Director of programs on trafficking and migration, People in Need, Armenian branch, at the press-conference given on 20 November.
Five of the victims were boys- over 12 year old, who were engaged in begging; and six of them were girls over 15, four of them were exploited sexually, one was forced to labor, and one girl was forced to begging.
According to data, presented by Bezhanyan, all children had parents, but were coming of socially vulnerable families and attended special institutions. Two of the cases happened abroad, and the rest -in Armenia. There are court verdicts on four cases, three cases are at the stage of court investigation and one is at a preliminary investigation stage.
“Unfortunately, our society still has an accusatory attitude towards victims of trafficking. So, we believe that victims of trafficking are to be blamed for being trafficked”, noted Tatevik Bezhanyan and added that the stereotypes and labels should be fought against to bring victims back to the society, otherwise, the victims of trafficking risk to be trafficked for the second time.
“The victims of trafficking need protection and then rehabilitation and re-integration, especially the youngsters,” emphasized the director of programs on trafficking and migration.
Mariam Mehrabyan, psychologist, who works with victims of trafficking, noted that traffickers themselves have a past when as children they were beaten and neglected: “Today's victims may start trafficking themselves if they are not re-socialized appropriately.”
Bezhanyan reminded that an ordinary begging- when a child, at his own initiative, attempts to gain some money- is not considered as trafficking. Trafficking implies an abuser who takes advantage of a poor situation of victims and uses methods of enforcing and threatening to earn money or pursue his own interests.