December 11, 2020

Asia Region Anti-Trafficking Conference

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Day Three

Today took a very different approach to the last two days. The morning kicked off with a reminder from STOP THE TRAFFIK’s Carolyn and Fuzz Kitto of the upmost importance of working together and helping one another to fulfil the role each of us has in the fight against human trafficking. Each stakeholder has a responsibility to support and empower other stakeholders to ensure everyone is able to play their specific part in a broad, complex picture that none of us can complete alone.

The primary aim of today was to share our collective expertise. This started with speed networking; getting to talk with people in the room and hear about the work others are doing.

Today’s shared learning focused on ten key issues: child sex traffickingadult sex traffickingforced marriageforced labour in the fishing industryforced labour in the construction industrydomestic workersmigrantsrefugeespolicy and legal.

The first session took a world café approach – each table talked about one issue for 5-10 minutes before rotating onto a new issue – enabling everyone to briefly discuss a number of forms of trafficking. Ideas, both on the underlying causes that contribute to trafficking and the subsequent impact of trafficking on the individual, their family and their community, where compiled on one sheet that each new group added to as they discussed the specific issue. Many of us know more about one topic than another so the world café style of discussion provided space to explore areas beyond our own expertise, while drawing on our existing knowledge.

What struck me from the diagrams produced during the world café was the overlap between different forms of trafficking. While all fall under the broad umbrella of exploitation, experiences of trafficking are widely different and individual specific. Even within the same form, experiences belong on a spectrum of exploitation – for example, for those who have been trafficked for labour purposes, some will be paid but have their documents withheld, thus impeding their ability to leave, whereas others will never be paid.  Yet despite the range of experiences of trafficking, many of the push factors that leave people vulnerable and many of the consequences of trafficking identified nevertheless overlap across multiple forms of trafficking.

After lunch we delved more deeply into the specific forms of trafficking discussed at the world café. Six groups were formed, based on area of expertise; sex trafficking; forced marriage; forced labour (fishing and construction industries); domestic workers; migrants and refugees; policy and legal.

The facilitators of each group ask everyone to share their work by identifying a) where they work, b) what kind of work their organisation does and c) where they have identified trafficking routes. These were all depicted on maps, creating a powerful visual tool of the work being done by conference participants and which regions are source areas and which are destinations.

Devised through contributions from everyone at the conference on their specific area of expertise, these maps became an impressive representation of the different forms of trafficking across Asia and the work being done to address the problem – as well as the remaining gaps and challenges identified by the organisations present.

As today was a day centred around learning from one another, rather than from a speak on a stage, I want to share a few of what conference participants volunteered as knowledge they had learnt at the conference so far:

we must invest in people!

not to speak to them [survivors of trafficking] as though they have a problem; the wholeness for recovery from trauma

need for robust compensation mechanisms

use of technology for disrupting trafficking

Brain storming on the push factors for and consequences of labour trafficking for domestic work during the world cafe session

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