EXECUTIVE SUMMARY of BEST PRACTICES
- Successful group residential rehabilitative facilities cannot stand alone but must be linked to a network of anti-trafficking resources, organizations, and services.
- Funding: finding a viable long-term means of self-support is difficult for most shelters and requires creative approaches. Activities contributing to sustainability may include enterprises that both increase former victims’ job skills and generate income to support the shelter.
- Security is a concern for all shelters and includes protection against outside break-ins and escape from the shelter by victims.
Group Residential Facilities:
- Emergency Shelters. Emergency shelters are usually the first destination for victims of trafficking, following a rescue, police referral, or escape, and typically provide for stays of a few nights to a month. They emphasize the immediate provision of medical and physical security for the victims.
- Short-Term Shelters. Short-term shelters commonly provide assistance to victims of trafficking from one week to three months, either in their country of origin or destination.
- Long-Term Shelters. Long-term shelters prepare trafficking victims for reintegration into society, whether within their families or in new communities. The length of stay in longterm shelters varies; most provide support and assistance for six months or more. Transition homes and reintegration centers are two common types of long-term shelters. Transition homes offer residents more freedom of movement. Reintegration centers provide safety and long-term support in a structured, formal program.
Rehabilitation, Recovery, and Reintegration
- Critical factors in rehabilitation, recovery, and reintegration include the victims’ age, physical and psychological health, background, family life, culture, duration of exploitation, and perceptions of the damage done to their person and their future as a result of having been trafficked, especially if they have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The long-term recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration of trafficking victims can involve educational and economic opportunities, as well as extended psycho-social care.
- Education: Many shelters provide a range of educational opportunities, including formal and non-formal education, life skills, and vocational training. Foreign residents may need special attention, such as those who intend to remain in the destination country to testify against traffickers.
- Economic Opportunities: To avoid re-trafficking, victims need the skills to earn an adequate income. Skills training programs should be created to match the needs of the local job market. Some shelters have included income earning ventures to provide vocational skills to former victims as well as to supplement shelter resources.
- Psycho-Social Support: Victims of trafficking commonly experience severe physical and psychological trauma as a result of the violence, rape, threats, addiction, and other means traffickers use to control their victims. Psycho-social support and counseling can help victims of trafficking free themselves from the anxiety and depression and start rebuilding their self confidence. The majority of shelters reviewed in this study had some form of counseling services available to victims. However, an assessment of a government-run shelter in Nigeria found that counselors often lack specialized training in trafficking-related trauma. This assessment also noted that the shelter’s atmosphere is an important element in the psychological well-being of trafficking victims. Residing in a facility that is similar to one’s home, rather than an “institution,” and having access to recreational facilities may help shelter residents achieve emotional release from the trauma they have experienced.
- Reintegration: The reintegration of trafficking victims often is a difficult, complex, and long-term process. It is different for each victim, and it involves not only the victim but also the environment and culture within which the reintegration is to take place. The organization providing support may need to make a long-term commitment to the victim to help in this process.
- The study identifies a set of good practices for the provision of shelter care to victims of trafficking. Given the range of trafficking situations and the varied needs of trafficking victims, these practices are not applicable to all shelters at every stage of the rehabilitation, recovery, and reintegration process.
- Standard operating procedures: Standard operating procedures outline the criteria for victims entering facilities and the procedures to follow when assessing, caring for, and referring victims to other facilities or integrating them into society.
- Linkages: Shelters are one part of a process in the protection and recovery of victims and the prosecution of the traffickers. They need to develop strong linkages with those who can provide medical, psycho-social, legal, and vocational services to shelter residents, as well as with government agencies and NGOs that are involved in anti-trafficking efforts.
- Staff training: Shelter staff should receive continuing training in understanding the psychological state of a trafficking victim. Those working with foreign victims need training to understanding different cultures’ approaches to counseling and care.
- Individualized attention for victims: Shelters should be prepared to respond to the specific needs of trafficking victims based on the victims’ age, physical and psychological health, background, duration of exploitation, and perceptions of the damage done to their person and their future.
- Economic Opportunity: Vocational training must be based on a realistic analysis of the job market and take into account both the individual and the environment.
- Meet Shelter Standards: This will include making building safety and hygienic improvements, increasing professional staffing appropriate to the target population, and establishing key linkages with victim referral agencies, social and health services, vocational support, and housing providers.
- Follow-up: Assistance to former trafficking victims who are reintegrated must include a follow-up component to assess their needs upon their return home where they often face serious problems, such as stigma and extreme poverty.
SECTION II. CONTEXT: EACH SHELTER IS UNIQUE
- Populations Served: Shelter populations may include women and children; victims trafficked within their own country; foreign nationals; and victims of other forms of abuse. Victims can arrive at shelters in a variety of ways, such as through law enforcement, NGOs, other shelters, or government or NGO referrals, or as a result of rescue. Trafficked victims may be intercepted while traveling, either across borders or within their own countries. Some may have been released from brothels because they have contracted HIV/AIDS or another illness, making them unprofitable to pimps and brothel owners.
- The services offered by group residential rehabilitative facilities must be flexible enough to address each population’s wide range of needs, including the differing situations in which trafficking victims have been held; the type of exploitation and abuse they have experienced; and the victims’ age, gender, and nationality. Victims may have different legal and personal issues based on whether they were trafficked for forced labor or for commercial sexual exploitation, or both. Some victims do not have official documents, either because their papers were forged or were taken from them, or, in some cases, because they do not have citizenship in their home country. Foreign victims or members of a minority group with its own language may not speak the language of the country or the local area within which they are being sheltered. If residential shelters do not have all necessary services on site, they rely on linkages with other groups or individual providers.
- Facility Size: The size of the group residential facility is usually determined by the location, the demand for shelter, security considerations, the type of services offered, and availability of external support. Shelters can be small enough to serve only a dozen individuals or big enough to serve well over 100 or 200 people. To be effective, shelters must pro-actively consider whether they can meet the changing needs of the population they serve. Whether large or small, successful group residential rehabilitative facilities cannot be stand-alone anti-trafficking entities but must be linked to a network of resources, organizations, and services, including law enforcement. Some organizations offer a host of services to trafficking victims and at-risk populations, of which shelter is just one part.
- Cost: The cost of establishing and maintaining group residential rehabilitative facilities varies significantly from shelter to shelter. Providing clothing, food, bed, and professional assistance from social workers, health workers, vocational trainers, police, and legal assistance is costly. Funding may come from governments, NGOs, donor governments, international organizations, faith-based organizations, private individuals, and the private sector. Shelters are very rarely self-sustaining.
- Security: Security is a concern for all shelters and includes protection against outside break-ins and escape from the shelter by victims. There are many cases where allowing a shelter resident to come and go from the shelter freely would impact her safety as well as the safety of other shelter residents, or might have an adverse effect on the ability to prosecute a trafficker, but shelters need to strike a delicate balance between these concerns and the human rights of the individual.
SECTION V. BEST PRACTICES
- This study has identified a set of good practices for the provision of shelter care to victims of trafficking. Given the range of trafficking situations and the varied needs of trafficking victims, these practices are not applicable to all shelters at every stage of the rehabilitation, recovery, and reintegration process. Rather, they should be used selective and adapted to accommodate the differing needs of victims throughout the process.
- Standard operating procedures. Standard operating procedures are necessary to outline the criteria for victims entering facilities and the procedures to follow when assessing, caring for, and referring victims to other facilities or integrating them into society. The development of a code of conduct for visitors to shelters also has received greater attention in recent years. Outside visitors may be asked to sign a form concerning what they can and cannot do during their visit, and the international NGO Terre des Hommes’ code of conduct for their shelter staff and visitors includes a policy requiring that an adult never be alone with a child.67
- Linkages: Shelters are just one part of a process in the protection and recovery of victims and the prosecution of the traffickers. As such they must have links and good working relations with other actors in this process. Strong coordination and cooperation among civil society and international agencies, as well as government organizations — formal or informal — are integral to effective anti-trafficking prevention, prosecution, and protection efforts.
- Appropriate staff training: Shelters need to employ, or develop relationships with, professionals in the field of medicine, psychiatry, psychology, and social work, as well as individuals who can provide vocational training in a wide range of skills. Some organizations in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia have advocated that shelter staff receive continuing training in understanding the psychological state of a trafficking victim. In Ukraine, for example, it is considered a best practice to help shelter staff understand that many trafficking victims, although grateful for being rescued, also may be fearful of being incarcerated or deported; feel guilty for having been so naïve or for not having earned desperately needed income; or experience a sense of betrayal by their communities, their friends, and their families. An additional concern identified in Eastern and Western Europe and Southeast Asia is the need for shelter staff, particularly those working with foreign victims, to receive help in understanding different cultures’ approaches to counseling and care. The Italian NGO On the Road has developed innovative, culturally sensitive programs using intercultural mediators — social workers from the same linguistic and/or cultural background as the victims — to assist victims more effectively.
- Individualized attention: Trafficking victims’ age, physical and psychological health, background, family life, culture, duration of exploitation, and perceptions of the damage done to their person and their future as a result of having been trafficked must be taken into account as part of the reintegration process. To prevent re-trafficking particular attention must be paid to victims who, for fear of stigma or social ostracism or because they lack access to sustainable income generating opportunities, cannot or do not want to return home.
- Economic Opportunity: Vocational training must be based on a realistic analysis of themarket and take into account both the individual and the environment. Traditional skill training programs that focus, for example, on hairdressing and weaving may not be appropriate in many environments. Alternatively, training in such skills as computer programming and bookkeeping may force the former victim to compete for jobs with more highly educated peers.
- Follow-up: Assistance to former trafficking victims who are reintegrated must include a follow-up component to assess their needs upon their return home, where they often face serious problems, such as stigma, neglect, extreme poverty, and a lack of job opportunities and psycho-social support.
SECTION VI. CONCLUSION
- Shelters differ in location, size, services provided, and population served. To be successful, they must link their services to wider networks of care that are better equipped to provide legal help, protection, education, and training to victims while they are residing in a shelter, and when following up with a victim during the long and often difficult reintegration process. This process is filled with uncertainties that result from exogenous factors, including the religious, ethnic, and cultural background of the victim, and economic and educational opportunities available to the victim before being trafficked and during her rehabilitation and recovery. The particular trafficking experience of each individual victim, including whether her family or friends were complicit, and the abuse the victim suffered, for example if the victim has become infected with HIV, is an extremely important consideration.
- There is no a quick fix in addressing the needs of trafficking victims. Shelters are costly to maintain and they entail a huge investment in a small population of victims. The care they provide cannot end once a victim takes the first steps toward an independent life. Follow-up and continuity of care are an integral part of the rehabilitation, recovery, and reintegration process.
- Shelters are not a replacement for the other actions that make up comprehensive anti-trafficking efforts. Rather the crucial work of shelters must be augmented by comprehensive, forward-looking preventive measures aimed at alleviating the root causes of the problem.
Adapted from http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADK471.pdf/ and compiled by L. Strausbaugh