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With Jobs Against Trafficking of Girls

BY STEPHAN RICHTER, shz, June 13, 2020 ('Schleswig-Holstein Magazin'')

English Translation of German Newspaper Article (please, see below) by Nico Nissen,

Rotary Club Flensburg, Germany:

With jobs against trafficking of girls

How a former World Bank manager from Schleswig-Holstein helps a foundation in the fight against forced prostitution.

Formerly Dr. Nico Nissen financed large scale projects at the World Bank. Now the guy from Schleswig-Holstein is active with smaller sums. However, they are no less effective. After retirement, the expert for development and environmental aid is now working for the HERA Foundation, which fights forced prostitution of young women.

The former top manager from Quern in the Schleswig-Flensburg district worked for German development aid for ten years. He then joined the World Bank for 20 years - ten years in Washington, the rest in countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Poland and Vietnam. The experience and competence of the 83-year-old is a stroke of luck for the small but very successful foundation.

The starting point of the voluntary commitment was an American colleague at the World Bank, Lynellyn Long. Through her husband, Nissen found out about her initiative against trafficking of girls. Hera is the wife and sister of Zeus in Greek mythology. The name of the foundation also stands for the English abbreviation "Her Equality Rights and Autonomy". The aim and purpose of HERA is to enable decent employment for young women so that they do not fall for girl traffickers. “There are many victims, especially in the Eastern European countries like Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine,” reports Nissen. “Young women are promised employment in hotels or in the household. But as soon as they cross the border, their passport is taken and they are forced to work in a brothel – this also happens in Germany.”

Figures by the Federal Statistical Office prove this. In 2018, 32,800 prostitutes were registered in Germany. 19 percent were Germans, the rest came from Romania (35 percent), Bulgaria (10 percent), Hungary (7 percent) and the rest of the world. The British BBC uncovered the abysses to be found in the girls' trade in a report of an auction in 2006. In a rented hall at Stansted Airport near London: 24 women from Eastern Europe were put on auction. The youngest was 14 years old. An average price of 9,000 Euro per woman was achieved.

There are many small steps that make "Hera" successful. Young women without work are easily victims of forced prostitution, especially in poorer countries. In order to get ahead of the girls' traffickers, this independent foundation tries to limit opportunities by creating jobs for young woman. The foundation's work starts with small companies that are run by women. Appropriate companies are targeted in countries such as Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia. With amounts between 400 and 800 Euro, these small businesses are supported by purchasing equipment that will create new jobs for young women. Typically, these are sewing shops, restaurants, bakeries, craft shops or businesses in food processing, agriculture or beekeeping. There are also schools and kindergartens.

“This year 176 applications for funding were received. After the screening, 116 companies remained that had to be visited”says Nico Nissen. If the respective project fulfills the requirements, the purchase is made immediately, on the spot and unbureaucratically. 56 investment of this type were financed in 2020. The women entrepreneur is asked to report to “Hera” within six months, how the investment has worked and whether additional young women could be employed.

During a visit in the following year, "HERA" checks the information. If it turns out that the financed purchase is not being used appropriately, the acquisition goes to another woman entrepreneur. According to Nissen, over 500 women under 30 years of age have found employment in this way over the past ten years.

“HERA” donates between 50,000 and 70,000 Euro annually. This NGO is recognized as a non-profit organization and works on a voluntary basis so that donations flow directly into the aid projects. "The more donations we receive, the more women we can reach," emphasizes Nico Nissen. His own “Rotary Club Flensburg” supported “HERA” this year with 7,500 Euro. "Every donation is well spent," promises the former World Bank manager.

Marga runs a small flower shop in Amenia. “Hera” helped her purchase a refrigerator for flowers so that she could expand her business. In return, Marga hired one additional young woman.

Very old sewing machines are still used in Lena's sewing shop in Vardeniz, Armenia. The foundation financed a modern button whole sewing machine which is now being used by a new employee.

For information: For donations: IBAN: FR76 3000 4001 8900 0100 8646 578

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