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Female victims are trafficked to Italy and other EU countries for sexual exploitation. Source and Transit Country. Albania was an economic ruin when it emerged 12 years ago from the ironfisted rule of communist dictator Enver Hoxha. High rates of poverty and unemployment, a crumbling infrastructure, and corrupt elected officials made the nation fertile ground for smuggling in drugs, weapons, and women.
Criminal organizations based in the capital Tirana and the cities of Vlora, Bekat, Shkodra, and Fier rely on speedboats for transporting victims across the Adriatic Sea to Italy, a trafficking stronghold. However, by the late s, lack of economic opportunity had undermined even this traditional safeguard as thousands of Albanian men and boys went abroad to work.
Albania not only supplies women and girls for the international sex trade, but also acts as a major hub through which women from countries further East are taken to Western European markets. Albanian women and girls are either lured by false promises of marriage or offers of legitimate employment or kidnapped to work as prostitutes. Ranging in age from 14 to 35, girls trafficked from Albania are among the youngest victims worldwide, with as many as 80 percent of them younger than 18, according to a Save the Children report.
They are brought to work primarily in Italy as street prostitutes, the most dangerous and unpredictable form of prostitution. Some Albanian girls are trafficked to other countries such as Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
Most of the women never receive a cut of the money they make. Foreign women and girls, the majority of whom are from Moldova and Romania, are also trafficked through Albania for sexual exploitation. Brought in via Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, or Macedonia, they are bought and sold in Albania before being sent to the port cities of Durres or Vlora for passage to Italy. Albanian children, both boys and girls, are trafficked to Greece and Italy to beg, wash car windows, and deal in drugs.