Join the Center for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies for our spring 2023 Graduate Student Lecture. This semester's lecture entitled "The Risks and Realities for the Romanian Roma Population in the Context of Human Trafficking" with Nancy Pellegrino (MA candidate in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies).
The Roma people are arguably the most ostracized minority group in Europe. This paper attempts to examine how their minority status intersects with other vulnerabilities to being human trafficked. Romania serves as the location of my research as it is not only a dominant sending country of trafficking victims, but it also has the largest Roma population in Europe. My research is designed as a theoretical white paper to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)’s Minority Rights Committee and provides an overview of the scope of trafficking in Romani communities, the factors that influence Roma migration, and the response of the state, NGOs, and anti-trafficking groups in Romania. The goal of my research is to use data on the Roma community’s access to state services and their socioeconomic conditions in order to 1) explain why they are at higher risk of being human trafficked and 2) to formulate more appropriate responses to the issue. I also seek to challenge the notion that trafficking in this community is inherently a Roma problem. My sources include academic publications, state memos on Roma integration and anti-discrimination policy, demographic information regarding poverty, housing, and education, case studies of trafficking cases involving Romanian Romas, and an analysis of Romanian anti-trafficking NGOs. I found that while discrimination in state care exacerbates the issue and disproportionately affects Roma communities, the most lucrative avenue for combating human trafficking among the Roma is to provide better state care holistically and to mitigate poverty, in general. This perspective also calls into question the effectiveness of, and offers an alternative to, the awareness campaigns that currently make up the bulk of anti-trafficking efforts in Romania. I conclude by offering recommendations to state actors, NGOs, and researchers that include, but are not limited to, heavy investments in social services, anti-corruption legislation, accessibility to existing state and NGO care, and participatory-based research.
About the Speaker:
Nancy Pellegrino is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies with a focus on post-Soviet foreign policy and international security. Her language studies include Russian and Romanian. Nancy received her Bachelor’s degree from Miami University majoring in Diplomacy and Global Politics, as well as Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. After graduation, Nancy intends to apply for a research or English-teaching Fulbright Award. Nancy’s long-term goals are to dedicate her fieldwork and regional expertise to the fight against human trafficking in Eastern Europe and to help foster a constructive dialogue in diplomatic relations. Nancy was also selected as recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Student Program English Teaching Assistant award to Romania for academic year 2023-2024.