304 – European Perspectives, with Ioana Bauer

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Dr. Sandra Morgan is joined by Ioana Bauer. In this episode the two discuss European Perspectives on ending human trafficking procedures.

Ioana Bauer

Ioana Bauer completed her anti-human trafficking certificate through Vanguard University. She has been a leader in Romania since 2010 in eradicating human trafficking. She has helped pilot survivor engagement projects nationally, internationally through the UN, and through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Ioana Bauer has impacted policy and legislation, leading an initiative in Romania to remove the statute of limitations for the crime of creating online Child Sexual Abuse materials. She’s spearheaded a new award winning protection model compass geared at preventing and identifying trafficking for Ukrainian refugees. Ioana Bauer has been active in the area of protecting human rights and dignity since 2005, and, since 2010, she has dedicated her efforts to addressing human trafficking by leading and shaping prevention activities, developing materials on the issue and conducting capacity building activities. Ioana is an Ashoka Fellow, a 2020 Resilience Fellow with GITOC, and is recognized as one of the women leaders advancing the UN SDGs globally.

Key Points

  • Ioana Bauer received the first ever Amplify award at this year’s Amplify Luncheon.
  • Prostitution was recently recognized as a form of violence against women by the European Union.
  • It’s important to use accurate terminology, like “CSO” (Civil Society Organization) because it reframes something from a negative.
  • Multiple items of legislation, recommendations, and bylaws have made it to their 20th anniversary, raising some concerns about whether or not they should be updated.
  •  A referral mechanism is essentially a helpful roadmap for identifying victims, and guiding them to services/resources in order to access their rights.



Sandra Morgan 0:00
You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking Podcast. This is episode #304: European Perspectives, with Ioana Bauer Romania.

Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking Podcast here at Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice in Orange County, California. This is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. I am so delighted today to have an in studio guest, Ioana Bauer. She completed her anti-human trafficking certificate through Vanguard University and I’m so proud of her. She’s done all the work, but I just get to be proud. She has been a leader in Romania since 2010 in eradicating human trafficking. She has helped pilot survivor engagement projects nationally, internationally through the UN, and through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. I’m especially intrigued with the ability she has to impact policy and legislation. She led an initiative in Romania to remove the statute of limitations for the crime of creating online Child Sexual Abuse materials. She’s spearheaded a new award winning protection model compass geared at preventing and identifying trafficking for Ukrainian refugees. We interviewed her about that in episode #282. You can check that and you can also remember what we said about her in her bios. I’m gonna dig right into this and Ioana I’m so happy to have you with us today.

Ioana Bauer 2:27
Thank you so much. It’s amazing to be here. And again, I am awestruck by the fact that I’m in the presence of one of my mentors.

Sandra Morgan 2:35
I’m glad you are here. And just for our listeners, I want you to know, the reason she’s here on site is she was able to attend our Amplify event this weekend, where she was recognized for her important work in the movement, as she received our first ever amplify, award. The theme of amplify is “Every Person, Every Action.” We want to amp up our energy and our resources in combating human trafficking. We want every person, every action to count. So congratulations on receiving that award.

Ioana Bauer 3:22
Thank you so much.

Sandra Morgan 3:24
So I’m particularly interested in better understanding what’s happening in the European Union. I was with a friend last week, and they were excited they were getting WhatsApp notices from the EU, the European Union, about a resolution that had just passed regarding prostitution. Can you give us some insight?

Ioana Bauer 3:47
Yeah, last week was a moment of celebration in the European Union as far as the anti trafficking movement goes, because although it is a non binding legal document, this resolution talks about prostitution, and it recognizes it as a form of violence against women. If we look at prostitution, 90% of the people who are victimized through it, are women and girls. Then if we look at sex trafficking, so human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, 87% of the victims are women and girls. Therefore, it’s important to have the right terminology and to look at prostitution an its role that it plays in this. So with this resolution, what we’re seeing is that no MEP’s voted on the fact that prostitution is violence against women. They voted on the fact that we should not blame the victims, we should not look at the people who are pushed into this either by circumstances or other people, but we should actually look at the other factor that oftentimes goes unnoticed, respectively, the demand. Who are the people who are willing to pay for the exploitation of others? So this resolution is providing different provisions, it’s basically recommendations that the states should look at how to protect victims, how to make sure that we’re not putting the burden on the vulnerable people to not be vulnerable anymore, and it’s also looking at exit programs, services that people can access, and basically alternative.

Sandra Morgan 5:28
Okay, so this resolution is actually a docket of recommendations for governments. It doesn’t actually have any legislative power, but it does build our collective agreement on what next steps need to be taken. Is that a good understanding?

Ioana Bauer 5:53
It is. And I think more than that, it should also be seen as a statement that was made because this was voted, right? Members of the European Parliament came and voted and the majority of them said, “Yes, we agree with what is in here.”

Sandra Morgan 6:09
Okay. And you used another acronym that isn’t part of my US vocabulary, I think you called them MEPs. Tell us what that means.

Ioana Bauer 6:22
Oh, my goodness, yes. And this is something that we all suffer from when we work too long in a certain field. So MEPs simply means Members of the European Parliament,

Sandra Morgan 6:33
Okay, MEP: Members of the European Parliament. And it’s so good for us to begin to understand what’s happening globally, because the intersection, the overlaps from one country, from one continent, from one culture, can be impacting others. We also share what we learn, our shared knowledge comes from shared experiences. But all these acronyms, I think, today, we’re going to have a little bit of a lesson on acronyms. So a eLiberare, actually I never can say it right, say it correctly.

Ioana Bauer 7:16

Sandra Morgan 7:17
eLiberare is a CSO, so tell us what a CSO is.

Ioana Bauer 7:23
A CSO would be used interchangeably with NGO, which might be an acronym that you’re more familiarized with. But it means Civil Society Organization,

Sandra Morgan 7:34
And Civil Society Organization terminology is becoming more common. It actually reframes something from a negative. If we say non governmental, we’re actually creating some divide between who’s doing what, but civil society organizations are coming to the table in the public square. I like the move to that kind of terminology so I have started using CSO, but I forget to explain why I’m using it.

Ioana Bauer 8:14
And I think another thing that we can look at is the power behind it, because another way of saying this, referring to the civil society is the third sector. It’s finally recognizing the power that we have to come at the table as organizations that are working on different issues, and to have our voices heard.

Sandra Morgan 8:34
I like that. So I have also been learning more about the European Union Anti-Trafficking Directive, I looked at it some time back and then recently learned that that framework is being revised. I’m curious what that process is, what the goals are, and where we are on that, because I know it will help us in other parts of the world.

So the process is pretty lengthy and I’m going to try to put that in just a nugget.

This is a short podcast. People have to be able to get to work before the end of it.

Ioana Bauer 9:16
So the European Commission comes out, proposes the revision. They’re being discussed in the Council of the European Union, which is basically different stakeholders from the member states who will vote on this, and then the revision will actually be adopted and become another piece of legislation this directive specifically. So right now, where we are in the process is that the European Commission proposed changes to this particular legislation that, in a way, governs the legal framework for anti-trafficking in Europe. This is very important, why? Because we’ve waited a very long time for this change to happen. The directive came out in 2012 and if we look at the field, that’s an extremely long time to actually not look and not revise legislation that governs how we deal in this particular field. It looks at prevention, it looks at prosecutions, it looks even at the types of human trafficking that are recognized as a form of this crime. So it’s long overdue. Also, it would have been interesting to see if we didn’t just need a new directive, but that’s, as you said, a discussion for another time. I’m creating here space for you to invite me again to speak on it. But basically, what we’re looking at is how do we update the legislation, first of all? How do we bring it into the present days? Also, one thing that I want to look at is how do we inform this piece of legislation with the survivors who have actually suffered through this form of crime, specifically in Europe? And then, how do we check some of the obligations that have been brought by the first form and are still not realized? So for example, in 2012, the directive was talking about a uniform set of indicators, right? As you know, in Europe, the different legislations from the different member states can make it so that in a country, a person who is in a form of exploitation is a victim and can access services, but in another one, they could be treated as a perpetrator because the legislative framework is not uniform, and the indicators are not the same. In a way, it creates this imbalance and almost the discrimination of victims of human trafficking, depending on the place of their exploitation. So this is high time for us to look at some of these inconsistencies, and figure out how to fix them because ultimately, we need to share the responsibility among member states, and figure out how to make this a level playing field and give all victims of human trafficking, the same “opportunity” to be identified, to access services, and to be referred forward so that they can go to the next phase of their healing process.

Sandra Morgan 12:19
Okay, so how many member states are we talking about?

Ioana Bauer 12:22

Sandra Morgan 12:23
27 member states. So finding agreement between 27 different countries, with various cultures, and various resources is part of the challenge, because it’s been more than a decade. 2012, now we’re 2023. So what do we need to encourage to see the successful revision of this framework?

Ioana Bauer 12:54
I think there are several aspects. First of all, we need the CSOs that we talked about earlier, the civil society, to come together and actually contribute from a practitioners standpoint, with the reality of our day to day jobs. Right? I think a lot of times legislators don’t necessarily have the practical experience of working in the field that they’re legislating in. This is not a problem and it’s not only in Europe, right? A lot of times decision makers aren’t necessarily subject experts, subject matter experts in all of the things that they need to legislate on. So how can we become a resource and make sure that the experience from the grassroots, from the day to day, from the trenches, so to speak, is actually mirrored in the measures that are being put in place? We also need to make sure that we invite survivors at the table. Because too many times, what we’re doing is we’re talking about survivors instead of inviting them into the conversation, listening, and learning from them. Then also, I think we need to figure out the realistic goals. So rather than talking about this utopic or ideal situation, we need to figure out what is doable right now, in this context. If we look at Europe, we’re facing some challenges that are unprecedented in recent history, right? We’re seeing the biggest moves of people since the Second World War because of the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis and war of aggression of Russia against Ukraine. So that’s really changing the way that we’re looking at things and it’s shifting the dynamics. So we need to take that into consideration. Europe has become a producer of online child sexual exploitation material. So if before the framework was just looking at the people who are maybe paying for this or the different servers that were hosting this, now, we’re seeing that these are new challenges. So how do we actually make sure that what we’re revising right now, and it took us 12 years to get to this point, right, almost 12 years, how do we make sure that it’s going to be valid next year? So how do you have one: the reality of the field reflected, but two: the foresight to actually understand the measures that are being needed for both the prevention piece, the prosecution piece, and the protection piece?

Sandra Morgan 15:27
Okay, wow. That is very clear and I hope as a listener, you’re thinking about how those elements can be integrated in your local conversations. From the perspective, one more acronym. The way I understand it, there is one more organization that is leading substantive change in this area. OSCE, what does that acronym pertain to?

Ioana Bauer 16:04
We really do love our acronyms in this field, right? So Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, is actually this body that also has not one, but two portfolios leading on anti trafficking. One would be the SR, here’s another acronym for you, the Special Representative on Anti-Human trafficking, and this seats under the secretary in Vienna. Then the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, which is in Warsaw, also has an advisor on human trafficking. So these two bodies have led different reforms. What’s interesting about the OSC, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, is that it actually has 57 Member States, which means that the different policy papers or different recommendations that are going out, are going out and informing 57 governments, including the US government, so not just EU states, but also larger European states and the United States.

Sandra Morgan 17:09
Wow. Okay, let’s talk about the specific areas under OSCE that pertain to anti human trafficking. What are they?

Ioana Bauer 17:21
I think one thing that is worth mentioning, and this is an observation that could work globally actually, the OSC Action Plan on Anti-Human Trafficking, has just marked its 20th anniversary. So some of the main pieces of legislation, or recommendations, or bylaws that we’re using to guide us in this movement are 20, or more than 20 years old, right? I’m sure that you’ve discussed the Palermo Protocol, which is the main UN legislation, that’s also 20 years plus. I’m sure you’ve talked about the TVPA, which is legislation here in the US, and how that has also marked its 20th anniversary a few years ago, actually. So what we’re seeing is that we need to update those things. The action plan on addressing trafficking in human beings, THB, another acronym, that sits under the OSC and was one of its guiding documents, I got to speak at the 20th anniversary of it. In a way, it was both a momentous occasion to understand that some of the provisions are still standing, and it was also extremely concerning, because some of the challenges mentioned they are still very much valid today. So in a way, I think it’s a good moment to assess and figure out what are the things that will move the needle, right, that will help us make strides in our work and in our efforts? Whether we’re talking about the role of CSO, the role of civil society organizations, how do they actually have an equal seat at the table, and they’re not just being called in whenever it’s comfortable, or just to make sure that we check another representative at a certain event? But how do we make sure that the work and the voice is valued, and it’s taken into consideration? It talks about the need for collaboration when it comes to the pathways of identifying victims. This brings me to one of the greatest challenges that we’re facing in the movement, the fact that we’re actually identifying less than 1% of victims globally. The plan covers all these things and it works on it and the role of the Office of the Special Representative, the way that I understand it, is to actually help states put in place legislation or different provisions, to make sure that things are moving, that we’re moving the needle as mentioned. Then the ending trafficking advisor that’s sitting under the Office for Democratic Institution and Human Rights, is leading on the human dimension of it. So it actually houses the International Survivors of Trafficking Advisory Council (ISTAC), which has a number of survivors. I’m proud to say that one of my colleagues from eLiberare, the member for this cohort. It really gives survivors a seat at the table, and allows them to speak into the different recommendations and different policy papers that are going out to 57 states. The governments of 57 countries are looking at what the survivors have to say, which I think is extremely important. It’s a good practice model that should be kept. It also does trainings. I was extremely honored to be a part of the training team that got to train on the first responders in the Ukrainian crisis. It’s doing trainings on how to identify potential cases of human trafficking, and it also owns the concept of a national referral mechanism with the different pillars and the different elements of it.

Sandra Morgan 21:25
Okay, so define a national referral mechanism.

Ioana Bauer 21:31
So the easiest way to explain this without using more acronyms, is to actually think of it as the victims journey. A national referral mechanism looks at everything from indicators, what are the signs, the warning signs that we should look for? How do we actually detect and notify a case? So, figuring out how to pass on information towards law enforcement. If the victim wants to cooperate, figure out the justice piece. It looks at the services that a victim can be referred towards. It looks at the statute of a victim, like what makes somebody, a presumed or a certified victim of human trafficking, which is key in order for them to access their rights, and to be able to be referred towards services. Then it looks at what does rehabilitation look like? What does it mean? It looks at justice in a way that’s more than just the criminal justice, other ways of redress, and so on. So literally, if you think of a victim’s journey towards becoming a survivor, towards thriving, towards becoming somewhat autonomous, which should be the goal, eventually, a national referral mechanism should cover all that journey.

Sandra Morgan 23:01
Sounds like a roadmap.

Ioana Bauer 23:03
That’s a great way to explain it.

Sandra Morgan 23:04
Yeah. Well, I’m borrowing that from some of our protocols here in California and our task forces. So I want to go back and revisit one of the arms of the OSCE, the Office for Democratic Institutions, and Human Rights. I know we don’t have much time left, but I really do believe that the focus on human rights is a major contributor to how we build more momentum and understand that we are focused in a victim centered approach on building capacity for someone to access their human rights, to understand that they do have human rights. Yes, we want to put the perpetrators away, we want someone to suffer criminal justice, but as you mentioned in the referral mechanism process, our goal is to restore someone’s human rights so that they can be autonomous. I think that includes restitution. Without an understanding of the person and their human rights, we’re all part of the same human race. So that was a really long way to get back to this and give you two sentences to answer

Ioana Bauer 24:54
You speak about this oftentimes, right? I think a good example is is to look at human trafficking not just for the purpose of sexual exploitation, but also look at human trafficking for labor exploitation, for example. In those cases, just by talking to victims of this particular form of the crime, I know that getting their money for what they’ve worked is something extremely, extremely important for those people. Oftentimes, in a lot of countries, especially in the European Union, that means civil justice, it doesn’t mean criminal justice. So that’s why we need to look at it holistically. I think another concept that we should explore more is the kaleidoscopic justice, where we’re also looking at how do we make sure that there’s justice in the community for the victims? How do we ensure they’re not being blamed? Like victim blaming, taking that away. Figuring out how we create spaces in which victims and survivors are actually being listened to when it comes to what makes them feel like they are being treated justly, and that their rights are respected. Then the other piece, I’ll count that as one sentence, the second one would be the point on actually teaching people their rights. This should start at a very, very early age. We need to make sure that education starts even in the elementary school, right? We discuss about this because with victims of human trafficking, unfortunately, a lot of them, the normalcy that they experience is one of abuse and exploitation from a very early age. So telling them that this is your right without actually explaining how that works and how they can access those rights, is not necessarily helpful. So how do we put hands and feet and make this concept of justice extremely graspabl for everyone?

Sandra Morgan 27:02
That’s so good. I think that the ISTAC, International Survivors of Trafficking Advisory Council, are really helpful in helping us develop and understand the process. How many survivors serve on that advisory council?

Ioana Bauer 27:26
I believe it’s anywhere between 22 and 24, but you would have to check. You would have to go and research and I actually encourage you to do so because their work is super interesting. Reading their bios, and finding out more will also give you an answer to this question.

Sandra Morgan 27:43
I kind of have an ulterior motive in asking that question. Because sometimes, I’ve observed, I’m not like calling anybody out, but people are encouraged to have survivor leaders so an organization, a government, whatever, will say, “Oh, we have a survivor.” You have one survivor. Maybe, if your budget allows, and you’re able to, you have three survivors. But the idea that survivors from different countries, cultures, and continents, may not have the same experience, you might be missing some input that would help make your response more holistic and complete. The size of this advisory council, I really feel is an advantage. We can’t afford to have 22, 25 survivor advisors here at the Global Center for Women and Justice, so I want to learn from that community and this is a way I can do that.

Ioana Bauer 28:57
Absolutely. I think one thing that’s important to note is that ISTAC comes out with publications. These in a way, become a way of actually being survivor informed and survivor centered, and it doesn’t cost us anything. It just costs us our willingness to learn. The other piece, I think you’ve described tokenistic survivor engagement very, very well, when we have this one person that we always put out that we sometimes, more often than not, ask them to tell their stories, so on and so forth, just so we can check and feel better about ourselves or our organization. Because look at us, right? We have a survivor leader or an expert by experience. But I think we need to learn from such examples such as ISTAC that has survivors of sexual exploitation, survivors of labor exploitation, and how it actually engages with the survivors in a very meaningful way.

Sandra Morgan 29:54
Wow, okay. I just looked at the clock and we are out of time. I want to remind you that you can go back and listen to this interview with Ioan #282, to learn more about Compass and Ukraine. We have so much to learn. I’m going to get links to everything that we’ve talked about here to put in the show notes. But the first place I’m going to go, is to complete my homework. I’ve just been assigned to go and look at the ISTAC web page, to read and to understand and learn more about who is there, because their expertise, their lived experience is important to all of us. I can’t thank you enough for joining us. I’m excited to keep this relationship and partner with you. For those listening, we’re inviting you to take the next step, go over to endinghumantrafficking.org. That’s where you can find the resources we’ve mentioned and so much more. You can take a look at the anti-human trafficking certificate program that Ioana completed, and find out what you can do and join our community by becoming a subscriber. We’ll see you again in two weeks.

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