INSigHT fieldtrip to Sweden and Denmark: exchanging experience to counter trafficking and support sex workers

From May 14 to May 16 Michela Semprebon and Giovanna Marconi, together with colleagues of Equality ATI flew to Sweden and Denmark for a fieldtrip for transnaltional exchange with anti-trafficking practices in Sweden and in Denmark, as a neighbouring country. On May 14th we met the Chair and vice Chair of the Red Van project. The Red Van is a mobile harm reduction organization for street-based sex work in Copenhagen. Their mission is to make working conditions less precarious by providing a safer space for street-based sex workers and sellers. They believe in rights, not rescue. More information are available here:

We were out on a night shift (picture 2) to observe how the project is organised and volunteers’ outreach approach with sex workers. The project has received the support of the local municipality, which confirms the recognition of its important role in terms of supporting sex workers and in particular migrant sex workers, with the main objective of ensuring their safety but also of providing contacts, where searched, for legal and health assistance. Our encounter with the Red Van was a relevant occasion to exchange views on the reciprocal outreach approach.

On May 16th we visited the Sandholm reception centre, approximately an hour from Copenhagen (picture 1). It is a first reception centre for asylum seekers arriving in Denmark which is run by the Red Cross. Our visit was focused on the approach with unaccompanied minors, particularly from Northern Africa, who are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation in criminal activities. The practitioners of the centre explained their concern on the fact that many unaccompanied minors actually flee from the centre before they are transferred to the secondary reception centres across the country (normally, 2-4 weeks after their arrival). We met also two legal guardians with whom we exchanged experiences on legal guardianship in Italy.

In the afternoon of the same day we travelled to Malmo (Sweden) to meet a few volunteers of Noomi Association that has been working to support victims of trafficking by offering access to a dedicated protected shelter (no picture are shared because of privacy reasons). Noomi’s activities include also awareness raising with the community. Critical issues have been pointed out with specific reference to Nigerian migrants, who were described to be particularly vulnerable due to their precarious legal status. Noomi works also with women working in Thai massage centres. Furthermore, Noomi has been collaboration with law enforcement agencies to fight trafficking, by actively participating to their inspections in massage centres and hotels. It was extremely interesting for Equality workers to learn about Noomi’s outreaching strategy through web-based appointment announcements, while the mutual exchange on protection practices was enriching for both organizations. Furthermore, the Chair of Red Van initiative also joined us in this transnational exchange workshop, hence INSigHT Project contributed also to promote connections and networking between Swedish and Danish organisations that didn’t have the chance to meet before.