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After trafficking. The (re)integration needs and experiences of trafficked children.

Regular contributor Rebecca Surtees from the NEXUS Institute is back this week. This post focuses on one of the findings identified in “After Trafficking. Experiences and challenges in the (re)integration of trafficked persons in the GMS”, a regional study of (re)integration in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). The research study was commissioned by the six COMMIT governments as part of the 2nd and 3rd COMMIT Sub-regional Plan of Action (2008-2010 and 2011-2013). The study, conducted by NEXUS Institute, analysed the effectiveness of (re)integration processes and structures from the point of view of trafficked persons and the service providers that support them, uncovering whether and to what extent services currently offered to trafficking victims and their families are meeting their (re)integration needs, including any unmet assistance needs. The study was coordinated by the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) and was overseen by a Regional Working Group comprised of Save the Children UK, World Vision International, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), NEXUS Institute and UNIAP. 

This study was based on in-depth interviews with 252 trafficked persons from all six countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) about their experiences of (re)integration, including successes and challenges, as well as future plans and aspirations. The study included persons who had been identified and assisted, as well as those who were not identified and/or did not receive assistance. Understanding the diverse and complex post-trafficking trajectories sheds light on a wide range of issues and dynamics at play in the (re)integration processes in the GMS. It also highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of existing (re)integration mechanisms and processes. (more…)

Slut-shamed: perpetuating mythologies of (underage) consent

The inevitable media backlash against the trials and convictions of “celebrities” for the sexual exploitation of girls has begun in the UK.  The long-simmering idea that children could be complicit in, and indeed consent to their own abuse, has surfaced.  For example, Eddie Shah, a former owner of the Today newspaper, found not guilty of six counts of rape of a girl under the age of 16, said in an interview:

Rape was a technical thing – below a certain age. But these girls were going out with pop groups and becoming groupies and throwing themselves at them… If we’re talking about girls who just go out and have a good time, then they are to blame.  If we talk about people who go out and actually get ‘raped’ raped, then I feel no … everything should be done against that.

A column by Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail focused heavily on the dropping of sexual offences charges against another entertainer, Jim Davidson, accusing the associated police operation, Yewtree, of becoming a witch-hunt.  These public pronouncements, notably by men, have been matched by worrying developments in a recent sexual assault case in which the prosecuting barrister, Robert Colover, described the 13-year-old victim as “predatory in all her actions and she is sexually experienced.”  The defendant was found guilty of sexual activity with a child, among other offences, but was given a suspended sentence.  Criticism, including from the Lord Chief Justice, was levelled at the judge in the case for his comments at sentencing that the victim “looked and behaved older”, a factor he took into account when deciding the sentence.  (more…)

Just deserts: victim compensation

Despite ample international, regional and local provisions for compensation, the provision of restitution for trafficked persons remains under-utilized. This undermines justice as well as potentially depriving much-needed financing for anti-trafficking efforts. A State’s focus on criminal prosecution may neglect important aspects of a victim-centered approach and without stringent, enforced penalties, may not even serve as an adequate deterrent. The former might include an emphasis on a victim as a key witness at trial, without taking into account livelihood concerns involved in an individual’s ability to participate (not being to generate an income, for instance). The latter may be expressed through the limited impact of the use of fines as punishment for those convicted for forced labor offences. For example, Paul Broadbent, Chief Executive of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) in the UK, highlighted:

We’d worked out the amount of money they’d made out of exploiting those people was way in excess of that fine […] so it’s actually worthwhile doing it on the off chance you’ll get caught, because when you do get caught and fined it’s absolutely a drop in the ocean compared with the money you’ve made. (more…)

Researching the unseen: Challenges in human trafficking research.

TTRP is pleased to have Rebecca Surtees as a guest blogger this week. Rebecca is Senior Researcher at NEXUS Institute, an international human rights research and policy center in Washington, DC. NEXUS Institute is dedicated to combating human trafficking as well as other human rights abuses. Recent research studies include: Trafficked at sea. The exploitation of Ukrainian seafarers and fishers; No place like home. Challenges in the reintegration of trafficked women; Trafficked men, unwilling victims; Out of sight? Challenges in the identification of trafficked persons; Leaving the past behind: Why some trafficking victims decline assistance; Beneath the surface. Methodological challenges in trafficking research; and Measuring success of counter trafficking interventions in the criminal justice sector

Researching the unseen

Much human trafficking research is based on data from trafficked persons who have been formally identified and assisted by anti-trafficking organisations and professionals. This type of research reveals a great deal about their pre-trafficking situations and vulnerabilities, their trafficking experiences and their assistance experiences and needs, all of which is essential in informing policies and interventions to prevent and combat trafficking.

However, there are certain biases in terms of the information that we get from trafficking victims who have been identified and assisted, which means that our picture of trafficking is only partial. That is, not all trafficked persons are offered (or accept) assistance and there are also differences in terms of which trafficked persons researchers will have access to and why. Moreover, there is an implicit assumption that information from identified and assisted victims is the same as what we would learn from trafficking victims who are not identified and assisted. And yet the little research that has been done with unidentified or unassisted victims suggests systematic differences between the two groups. (more…)

Non-English speakers need not apply

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Sumner from the London Metropolitan Police spoke recently at a Home Office conference on labour exploitation and UK industry about a case in which he had achieved a recent prosecution. A Romanian man with mental health issues ended up in hospital as a result of the abuse suffered during his exploitation. However, the circumstances regarding his abusive treatment were not revealed to the medical professionals treating him as his exploiters accompanied him to hospital and were acting as his interpreters. When he was eventually found by a police officer, sometime later, wandering the streets after escaping the house where he was kept, she was unable to communicate with him. It was only upon contact with the Romanian embassy that the full extent of his experience became clearer. Worryingly, it was only at this point that the police became aware that a young girl was still in the house and had been horrifically exploited for several years. This scenario serves as an example in which language functions as an inhibitor to ‘rescue’ and perpetuated a method of control over victims. (more…)