The general objective of HEAL is to facilitate the integration of third country national women victims of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation through promoting a comprehensive healing process based on competence-building, psychological support to women and enhanced cooperation between key actors.
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HEAL shall thus promote a multi-layered action addressing women`s needs of psychological support, employment- related skills acquisition and rights awareness, while fostering stronger collaboration and networking between key stakeholders for the support of third country national women victims of trafficking, namely support service providers and employers, both at local and transnational level. A comprehensive healing process complemented by rights awareness action will hence be delivered for women victims of trafficking, to support them in coping with the trauma from the trafficking experience. It will contribute thus to their recovery and integration in the long run: the envisaged competence-building trainings will enhance their employability opportunities, and facilitate their economic integration, self-reliance and independence, which will lead to them being less vulnerable to (re-)trafficking and becoming active members of the host societies.

The HEAL database developed within the Recovery and Integration Programme will serve as a concrete tool for employment and recruitment, allowing to match their skills with local employers demands, preparing the ground for a durable interaction between the employers and the women beyond the project duration. In addition, a 6 strengthened interaction between local service providers, employers and women victims of trafficking will ensure more encompassing and advanced support to the women and enhanced capacity and performance for the service providers.

Trafficking in human beings (THB) is a serious crime and major violation of individual fundamental rights and dignity. It is prohibited by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and addressed through a legal and policy framework which places focus on the need for human rights-based and gender-specific approaches, given that its most commonly reported form within the EU is for sexual exploitation (67%), with the majority of victims being women and girls (95%).

The illegal and highly isolating condition of women victims of trafficking often means that they are not able to exit the exploitative market, with two major repercussions on their well-being: on the one hand, being involved in an illicit activity makes them unable to access the labour market through legal means, especially in the case of third-country nationals; on the other hand, being under the strict control of their traffickers, or simply detached from the broader social system of their host societies, women victims of trafficking are also particularly vulnerable to a lack of either knowledge of or access to the rights they are entitled to and the services of support at their disposal.

Although the specific nature of THB differs between EU countries, the above-mentioned repercussions on third-country national women victims of trafficking are apparent everywhere. Perhaps due to the geographic vicinity with countries of origin in the trafficking business, countries of southern Europe report high levels of THB, while often lacking the instruments necessary to fully counteract the phenomenon.

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It is estimated that approximately between 75,000 and 120,000 women in Italy are sex workers, and that at least half of them is from other countries, 36% of whom from Nigeria. However, instruments to accurately collect data on THB and therefore identify and assist victims in Italy are still limited. This instance suggests that it is ever more urgent to implement actions aimed at integrating victims, as well as at increasing their access to and awareness of their rights.

Greece is both a transit and destination country for victims of trafficking. However, due to deficiencies in victim detection and identification, the actual magnitude of the problem is significantly underestimated. In addition, Greek law, policy and practice have so far placed little attention on integration, which is not even defined as a clear goal of Greek law and policy. Hence the special needs of victims of trafficking are not an explicit consideration in the legal system and in the social support structures available nationally.

Spain is a source, transit and destination country for victims of trafficking. A high percentage of women victims are from South America, China and Nigeria, and a large percentage of sex workers in the country are victims of trafficking under the control of Nigerian, Romanian and Spanish trafficking networks. Authorities have in recent years collaborated extensively with NGOs for the identification of victims and their support. However, increased training of government officials and other stakeholders would help boost Spain’s capacity to assist and integrate victims of trafficking.

Sexual exploitation is the main form of trafficking in Romania, with 47% of victims being children, and 78% women. Although identification efforts are made, inconsistencies persist in the identification and referral mechanism used by the Police. Similarly to Greece, policy and legal efforts in Romania have been focusing more heavily on immediate assistance, with fewer efforts placed on trauma response and healing through psychological support services.

In an attempt to respond to these needs, the HEAL project proposes a comprehensive Recovery and Integration Programme to increase third-country national women victims of trafficking’s economic independence (partly building on the AMIF-funded ARISE project), supplemented by an alternative model of psychological support using techniques drawn from ethno-psychiatry and visual art which place the needs of survivors at the centre of their healing process.


Objective 1: To encourage networking and collaboration between key actors working with women victims of trafficking, fostering a shared understanding of the identified needs and rights among women victims of trafficking, employers, and support service providers.
Objective 2: To foster third-country national women victims of trafficking’s employment related skills and psychological recovery through an innovative Recovery and
Integration Programme.
Objective 3: To raise awareness among third-country national women victims of trafficking about the rights and services they are entitled to, and among the general public about the importance of integration to counteract
human trafficking.


This rationale allows for the implementation of activities which simultaneously benefit third-country national women victims of trafficking, service providers and employers. By creating and supporting a system for networking and information-sharing between service providers, employers, and women victims of trafficking, the project will contribute to the EC’s priority to enhance solidarity and responsibility-sharing among Member States, in particular those most affected by migration.

The system will be based on the arrangement of local roundtables and of an EU networking day with the participation of representatives from each of the three key groups, so as to foster transnational cooperation through the provision of concrete dialogue opportunities between a sample of key actors from each country. The networking component in WP3 will thus be an opportunity to exchange reflections between actors in different European countries, as well as to set the basis for future collaborations between them.

Based on this identified European dimension, HEAL will implement
three macro-types 
of activities in each involved country:

1) Activities aimed at gaining better and common understanding of the perceived needs of the three key groups of women victims of trafficking, service providers, and potential employers, and the specificities of these in the different national contexts;

2) Activities aimed at increasing interaction between these groups, both locally and at the EU level;

3) Activities leading to the design and implementation of the Recovery and Integration Programme, providing innovative and flexible methods for the psychological assistance of victims on the one hand, and for the transfer of employment-related skills through a multi-disciplinary training, transferable to different contexts.


The following methodologies will be applied in HEAL

Participatory Approach
A participative approach will be transversally implemented during the needs assessment, 
networking, psychological support and training stages to ensure constant participants’
Ethno-psychiatric Approach
An ethno-psychiatric approach draws from the belief that trauma cannot be treated with a universal perspective,  but rather that the way in which the individuals recount their traumatic experience based on cultural constructs  can be a starting point from which the practitioner can help them process the trauma and heal from it.  Women victims of trafficking will thus become story-tellers of their own traumatic trafficking experience, based on the belief that they can provide the necessary
cues for recovery.
Visual Art
Visual art is recognised as a powerful tool for psychological support and coping with trauma, hence HEAL will propose the development of fanzines as an expressive tool helping women elaborate their trauma by using a combination of words and images to share their stories.

Fanzines are informal, non-commercial, non-professional means of conveying feelings which are meant to stimulate women’s creativity and ensure their active role in their healing process while following a psychological process in a safe and comfortable environment.

Non-formal learning
Non-formal learning will be applied throughout the deployment of the training, encouraging the development of personal and employment-related skills. The training units will be delivered in the form of workshops to ensure regular participation and motivation. Unit 1 will benefit from the TRIO Model for Entrepreneurial Education that proved effectiveness in ARISE project.
Peer learning
Peer learning will be encouraged throughout the training and psychological support sessions, and peer-to-peer sessions will be arranged with the active participation of trained women as role models, to reach out to additional women victims of trafficking and multiply HEAL’s impact.
Intercultural Communication
Intercultural communication will facilitate interaction between different groups and overcome prejudice and stereotypes.



The action carried out by HEAL shall foster an integration process for third country national women victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in their host societies in Europe, thus contributing to making the European Union an area of freedom and safety, based on cooperation between Member States and in full respect of the rights of third-country nationals.

New Instruments And Approaches
Recognising economic independence and psychological wellbeing as fundamental pre-requisites of real integration, HEAL will provide new instruments and approaches, which will directly benefit the involved countries, and be able to be transferred after adaptation to different EU countries. In addition, the activities implemented will place focus on providing victims of trafficking in human beings with better awareness of and access to the rights they are entitled to across different countries and systems. It will do so bearing in mind the specific conditions of both victims and services available for their support in the different partner countries of the project, conscious that the methodologies of the action must be tailored locally so as to respond to the individual needs of the groups involved.

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The project will be implemented in Italy, Greece, Spain, and Romania, with the participation of 5 organisations. All countries partnering for the project have in fact been at the centre of mass migration flows in recent years, in many cases reporting high levels of immigration managed by either smugglers, traffickers, or both (IOM, 2017). Although the countries involved differ in terms of the specific systems of assistance and protection available locally for women victims of trafficking, all of them shall benefit from a more concerted action between key actors for the integration of these victims in European societies. In addition, levels of employment among women victims of trafficking in all these countries are still low, which prevents them from 10 freeing themselves from the slavery of the trafficking business.

A better integration of women victims of trafficking in the involved country
will benefit each hosting society, turning women’s abilities into an asset
for each local community.


D2.2 Public Round Table Report August 2020

D3.1 Toolkit for psychological support session “Fanzines and coping with trauma” (as a part of the Recovery and Integration Programme)– December 2020

D3.4 –   10 fanzines per 10 participating women

D4.1 –  Communication & awareness-raising strategy – December 2019

D4.2 –  Project’s website & social media pages – December 2019

D4.3 –  Project’s visual identity – December 2019

D4.4 – Online communication materials

 Newsletter October 2020

2 – Newsletter February 2021

D4.6 Invitations to peer-to-peer sessions, locale fanzine exhibitions and final event

D5.2 Ethics Policy April  2021


This project was funded by the European Unions Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund – Grant Agreement
no. 863631


Via Roma, 94 – 90133 – Palermo, Italy
Link: https://cesie.org
E-mail: justice@cesie.org

The general objective of HEAL is to facilitate the integration of third country national women victims of trafficking. These women were brought to European countries for the purpose of sexual exploitation. To do so, the project develops a comprehensive healing process based on competence-building, psychological support to women, and enhanced cooperation
between key actors.