Dr. Biljana Meshkovska

Life after trafficking: (re) integration processes of women that have been trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation in Europe

Year: 2018

Melissa Siegel & Arjan Bos


This thesis answers the question of what determines successful recovery and (re) integration of women trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and how influencing factors interplay, in the short and long run. The analysis is based on qualitative research conducted in Southeastern Europe (Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia) and Western Europe (Netherlands and Italy). Data was gathered through a total of 52 semi-structured interviews, conducted between November 2013 and December 2015. Interviews conducted were primarily with service providers in direct contact with trafficking survivors, with trafficking survivors and in one occasion family members of trafficking survivors.

One of the main findings of this research is that the ability of forming healthy relationships, personal in which the survivor can practice her autonomy, and relationships with service providers, built on trust, are the most significant factors that could contribute toward successful long term (re) integration of trafficking victims. The significance of the newly formed family, following a trafficking experience is also identified as an important factor influencing the success and sustainability of the (re) integration process. When looking at the dynamics of the prosecution of the trafficker, it was found that trials often last a long time, and may require the victim testifying numerous times, which often causes re-traumatisation. Finally, when looking at the approach to sex work in the context of anti-trafficking, this thesis finds ongoing stigmatisation, not only of sex workers, by both service providers and victims of trafficking, but also reports of stigmatisation of trafficking victims.

Selected publications by Biljana Meshkovska