(c) Mariah Acord
TIP Award Year:
Kristina Misiniene works for the NGO Caritas Lithuania. Caritas was founded in 1926, and is a Catholic organization. They re-formed after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1997. She has been an outspoken advocate for human trafficking victims’ rights in Lithuania, as the head, and founder, of the trafficking victims support services for Caritas, an initiative formed in 2000. She has presented at various conferences, and lobbied governmental authorities for better policies that protect victims and prosecute traffickers. In 2001, she worked with Caritas, and found funding sources, to provide support to victims of human trafficking. After the Lithuanian government passed a law penalizing the purchase of sex in 2005, she led an advertising campaign which placed posters all around Lithuania declaring that it is a crime to buy sex in Lithuania.
Each year, her organization helps about 100 victims, many of whom she works with personally. In presentations, she has stated that 40% of the victims they help are under 18. They provide a variety of victim support services, such as legal advice, shelter, psychological counseling, job skills, and other various and necessary services. She has coordinated volunteers to help with the work her organization is doing, and engaged in educational programs in the provinces of Lithuania in an attempt to prevent trafficking from occurring. In Lithuania, human trafficking is connected to organized crime, and many girls are taken from Lithuania into other parts of Europe for sex trafficking purposes. She has attempted to educate and influence the Lithuanian authorities, including prosecutors’ offices and regional authorities, to address this issue. She was given a Trafficking in Persons Hero Award in 2006, but she continues to work for Caritas Lithuania in her role for victim support. In the latest TIP Report, Lithuania was listed as a Tier 2 country. Although significant strides have been made, with Caritas and Kristina Misiniene leading the charge, there is more to be done to combat human trafficking in Lithuania.