About the project

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Mobile services, education and trafficking prevention for women in rural areas of Bulgaria

Human trafficking for sexual exploitation is a relatively new field in the work of the Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (BFPA). The first project focusing on this issue was realized in 2006 and it was called Young People against Trafficking. During this initiative the BFPA team had the opportunity to become more acquainted with the topic including through exchange of experience in Bulgaria and in other countries with representatives of Non-Government Organizations (NGO), municipal authorities and police authorities engaged in the battle against trafficking for sexual exploitation.

At the end of 2006 BFPA commenced the preparatory phase under the project Mobile Services, Education and Trafficking Prevention for Women in Rural Areas of Bulgaria. It included the collection of primary and secondary information regarding the vulnerability of women in rural areas in Bulgaria and related to trafficking for sexual exploitation. A lot of meetings were held with partner organizations (the International Organization for Migration, Nadja Centre Foundation, Animus Association Foundation), customs police officers, municipal mayors, GPs, RIOKOZ (Regional Inspectorate for the Preservation and Control of Public Health) and representatives of the target group.

The idea behind this project is the BFPA to provide services in the area of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in settlements with limited or difficult access to healthcare services by dissemination of information related to trafficking for sexual exploitation. Thus BFPA provides long-term medical services in the SRH area and educates women in rural areas on topics related to trafficking and the preservation of their health.

The information aims at ensuring the sexual and reproductive health of women who are potential victims of trafficking. It is also related to the prevention of unwanted pregnancy and abortion, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.

In January 2007 the BFPA started the actual activities under the project as the initial duration of the initiative was until June 2009. The main target group is that of women with limited or no access to health services in 6 settlements in the region of Rousse and in 2 settlements in the region of Razgrad. In view of the optimization of the activities related to the provision of health services in a multiethnic environment, in 2007 and 2008 BASPís team had the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills through experience exchange visits to Tunisia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In July 2008 8 new settlements in the region of Pleven were included in the project the total number of settlements reaching 16.

The settlements under the project were selected in accordance with preliminarily set criteria after information was collected and meetings were held:

  • Information was collected about cases of trafficking of women for sexual exploitation;
  • Need of provision of medical services in the field of SRH;
  • Possibility for fruitful partnership with local authority representatives and GPs;
  • Number of people living in the respective settlement;

In view of increasing the level of information related to SRH and trafficking for sexual exploitation of the women living in the selected settlements a number of trainings were held with their representatives. Also, initial and final researches were carried out related to the level of information of the people in the selected settlements on the topics of SRH and trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Another direction of the project is related to the provision of services in the SRH field and of information related to trafficking for sexual exploitation to adolescents in 2 youth detention centers in the town of Rousse and in 1 high-school boarding house. BFPA considers the work in this direction, especially in the youth detention centers, very important as the children there are in high risk of sexual exploitation or trafficking. The BFPA coordinator for the region of Rousse visits these institutions on a regular basis.

The project is realized with the financial support of the Innovation Fund of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)