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«Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto»

My name is Anna Rita, 24 years old, and I am currently writing my thesis to graduate in Human Rights and Multi-Level Governance. In this piece, I am going to tell you about my experience as a role player in the Live Simulation Based Training Course on “Combating Human Trafficking along Migration Routes” organized by OSCE in partnership with the Italian Carabinieri and the Centre of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU) based in Vicenza, Italy.

Briefly, the Live-Simulation consists of a realistic scenario of a criminal case of sexual exploitation among migrants. On one side, students are instructed to play potential victims of human traffickings, interpreters, and traffickers; on the other side, trainees are required to work together to identify perpetrators and assist victims. During the simulation, which lasted one week, I have felt very different kinds of emotions and I have learnt a lot.

Students' group photo at CoESPU, Vicenza, 1st October 2021.

When playing my character, a 27-years-old single mother migrating for a better life, I found really challenging to go deep into the story of the victim I was interpreting. After being identified as a victim of trafficking, I was accommodated in a shelter. There, waiting for answers about my personal and family situation, I felt exhausted, especially when social workers kept asking me the same questions over and over again. No one was really listening to my needs and nobody gave me the information I needed. At that specific moment, I felt abandoned and tired, firstly as a human being. I persistently told myself how the real victim would have felt, and I arrived at a point where the only thing I could do was to escape from the shelter.

The day after this emotional breakdown, I was asked to restart playing the character. At that moment, I was scared that I would have felt the same feelings as the day before and I did not want to be in that shelter anymore, with the same conditions. Once on the scene, I got angry with the trainees who abandoned me alone with no answers. In the Live-Simulation, there were “antennas” who were working in the backstage and who constantly pushed the trainees to follow the right path; but in the real-life, it wouldn’t have happened. This made me realize how dreadful is when emotional needs are not met, especially by the professionals who are supposed to help victims of trafficking dealing with tremendous lived experiences, such as engagement by deception and abuse.

Then, the final day, the situation was restored and all the people who left me alone allowed me to see the real multi-agency cooperation and the victim-centred approach, which are fundamental when working with people who suffer and demand their rights to be respected.

The entire simulation made me experience the humanity of all the people involved. Despite the fact that I got very angry for the shortcomings that could have happened in real life, in the end, I have realized that it was just a simulation. Little by little, I have accepted that all the trainees with whom I’ve been in contact with were trying their best: they were learning by doing as myself as a student. In the end, what really matters is to understand how to act in complex situations and to restore empathy towards one another. That warmth I felt stronger at the end - but also during the simulation - was really inspiring: to work with and for people, you must welcome them in all their strengths and weaknesses.

Aside from the acting, one of the best things that the Lived-Simulation has to offer is to know professionals who work in the field and to see the human being that resides in them. To conclude, I would strongly recommend taking part in the Live-Simulation to those who study and work in the field of human trafficking, but even for the people who are simply curious about the phenomenon. In this respect, I would suggest to future role players to take it seriously (but with a touch of lightness), because it has a lot to offer as future professionals, but especially as human beings.

Written by Anna Rita

Edited by Giulia Rosina

Picture courtesy of OSCE / CoESPU


Anna Rita is a student of MA Human Rights and Multi-level Governance. She is passionate about human trafficking and she is currently researching on reception communities for unaccompanied migrant minors in Italy.


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