Loophole must be closed so victims can get help

By Fiona Gribben

VICTIMS of sex-trafficking experience a similar degree of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) to war veterans who have completed tours of Iraq and Afghanistan - but there are insufficient services to treat their condition, experts have warned.

Like soldiers, receiving an effective programme of rehabilitation is crucial to these women's ability to rebuild their lives yet an inexplicable loophole in the Irish justice system prevents victims of sexual exploitation to receive counselling services if they chose to enter the asylum process.


Presently the Garda National Immigration Bureau does not identify women who are in the asylum process as possible victims of trafficking nor does it grant them a Recovery and Reflection Period 
and Temporary Residents Permit despite their cooperation with the gardai.

"It is extraordinary that women who have been sex trafficked are excluded from the possibility of being identified as victims of this crime because of their nationality or legal status," said Nusha Yonkova the anti-trafficking project coordinator at the Immigrant Council.

Ms Yonkova said the loophole "spoils all good intentions of rehabilitation".

Geraldine Rowley of Ruhama agrees: "Considering the asylum process can take up to seven years, victims are left in limbo. They cannot get access to the same counselling services or receive rent allowance for example."

The State's rationale for this measure is that residency permits are only given to potential or suspected victims of trafficking when 'required', that is, when they are regarded as needing permission to be in the State.