Atina: The organisation tackling trafficking and gender-based violence in Serbia

As the UK partner of International Social Services network, CFAB works with partners in over 130 countries, all working to protect children and their families at risk. Cross-border collaboration between different organisations and charities is central to all of our work protecting children and reuniting families. That is why, this week, we wanted to shine a spotlight on Atina, a Serbian organization that helps women who have been victims of trafficking or gender-based violence.  

Atina works with survivors, helping them heal by empowering them through education, inclusion in the community and economic independence. They also work to ensure victims can have access to health and social care, something that is routinely denied or difficult to access for survivors.  

We are particularly inspired by one of their initiatives, called Bagel Бејгл, made to support the combat against human trafficking. Bagel is creating conditions for economic empowerment of women and girls through training program and financial support to further work of NGO Atina. It gives survivors a space to form bonds, learn from each other, feel at home in their new communities and have the economic freedom to be independent in their own lives. Every bagel bought is another step towards eradicating trafficking and gender-based violence. It is described powerfully by Atina as ‘an oasis of great taste where you can treat yourself to mouth-watering food and also contribute to the struggle for a better world.’

Another key focus of Atina’s work is bringing to the forefront the experiences of women refugees and migrants, highlighting that the trauma suffered as a refugee is further compounded by the marginalization women refugees face as a result of their gender. Atina works in different regions of the country to provide material and emotional support for women who have experienced this. As their Director, Marijana Savic, highlights, current representations of women refugees often leads to them being reduced down to just mother figures, meaning support for their own needs can be left behind. As Marijana thought-provokingly asks, ‘are there safe places for women to share their experiences, to relax, and to simply come out of the role of a mother and spouse, and for someone to approach them as women, not as mothers?’ Atina’s focus on these issues through a feminist lens allows for greater agency and autonomy to be given to women seeking asylum.

Atina also strongly advocates for a tackling of the root causes of trafficking and gender-based violence – poverty, patriarchy and homelessness. Through their policy making and advocacy work, Atina aims to prevent harm from happening in the first place, and when it does, they have the right supportive programmes in place to help survivors heal.  

Given the geographical location of Serbia, there are a large number of refugees and survivors of trafficking in the region who need and deserve our support, and it is reassuring to know that Atina is there on the ground, working to provide the help for those who need it most. To learn more about the important work they are doing and how we can all join up our advocacy to provide support for victims across borders, visit their website here.