UNODC is cosponsor of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS - UNAIDS
Countering Trafficking: The way forward, through the eye of the survivors
Trafficking of children and women is common in India and South Asia. It has a significant impact on individuals and the society. The cost of disability caused by trafficking decreases the productivity of affected individuals and hampers development of a nation.
Survivors of trafficking report a significant impact on their self. The impact is manifold but the most significant impact is on a person's identity - her thoughts, feelings and actions. It is recovery of the person that lags behind all other processes. The survivor also is not acknowledged as the first right holder and decisions are taken about their life without their knowledge and consent. Most survivors are at the risk of being re-trafficked. Many survivors of trafficking do not have access to livelihoods to be able to support themselves once they start healing.
Survivors of trafficking are also an extremely vulnerable group for HIV/ AIDS. This is well known but seldom acknowledged as a service delivery component by existing care and protection programs.
It is well documented that these impacts on survivors cause disability and decrease the quality of life of survivors. The survivors report difficulty in being able to trust. There is avoidance of any situations or experiences that remind them of the violence they have experienced. The apprehension of violence and abuse determines their everyday activity. There are parallel emotions of guilt, anger, sadness and helplessness. There is an extreme level of difficulty in coping with these impacts. At times the survivor unwittingly copes through using maladaptive strategies.
Care and protection for women who survive violence and trafficking can end up being an process replete with re-experiencing of trauma. Most of the survivors experience extreme periods of helplessness and a lack of control in their lives.
In order to ensure that survivors of trafficking do not undergo an process of rehabilitation which can further traumatize them and negate their identity the voices of the survivors have to be heard and incorporated into all rehabilitation programs.
The survivors have repeatedly asked for the following
A greater voice for the survivors in decisions regarding their life.
A care, support and protection process that acknowledges their rights while ensuring their safety, dignity and control over their own lives.
A care, support and protection process that does not overlook their specific needs that arise from the psychological impact of trauma, diagnosis of HIV/AIDS and repetitive exploitation, without portraying them only as victims.
Care, support and protection processes that do not blame the victim and ensure that the experiences during care and protection are not re-traumatizing.
A strong process of redress that prosecutes the criminals and compensates the survivors for their traumatic experiences.
A care and protection that has a sensitive first response that helps them trust the law enforcement agencies and does not criminalize them.
A care and protection process that enables them to achieve a sense of permanence through sustainable livelihoods and access to safe housing.
A care and protection process that is accountable and responsive to the survivors.
A care and protection process that ensures that they are able to reassert their civil and political rights as equal citizens of India or their country of origin.
This background note is prepared with inputs from Saarthak (an NGO working on mental health issues) and is a reflection of what the survivors of trafficking have expressed in their various conversations with the mental health team of Saarthak.