For the past fifteen years the Irish Province of the Religious Sisters of Charity has very generously donated funding to the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) for its work in human trafficking. This money has enabled its legal service help trafficked men, women and children in numerous ways. The following is a summary, written by Sr Stan Kennedy, of just one woman’s situation and the complexity surrounding it.
Joy is a Nigerian woman in her early 30s. She is from a rural area marked with poverty and lack of employment chances. Joy and her two very young children were abandoned by her husband. Such a situation usually makes women extremely vulnerable and susceptible to recruitment by smugglers and traffickers. She was trafficked for prostitution through Europe and ended up in the prolific Irish sex trade. Her children were left behind in her country of origin to be cared for by relatives.
However, these arrangements were precarious and posed a daily risk for the children.
Joy was referred to the Immigrant Council of Ireland by the Health Service Executive. At this point she had already escaped trafficking through her own strength and resources, and she had made an application for asylum in Ireland. The Immigrant Council of Ireland solicitors are experienced in dealing with women who have suffered severe trauma, and, having obtained Joy's informed consent to act as her legal representative, were able to assist her in gaining a better understanding of her situation.
The following issues emerged as priority needs for Joy which the Immigrant Council of Ireland assisted her with:
- Giving a full, formal statement of her exploitation to the Gardai.
- Enabling her to get a residence card as a victim of human trafficking in the asylum process.
- Supporting her to avail of mental health supports.
- Working on her behalf to access appropriate room accommodation as she was moved around different Direct Provision centres.
- Advising her with regard to family reunification.
Due to COVID 19 Joy’s journey through a maize of legality has been on hold. Because of the various changes in her accommodation she is again on a waiting list to access mental health support. Her family reunification application will have to be applied for again and her residency has expired. All of this is a major source of anxiety for Joy.
The ICI continues to support and guide Joy on her journey.