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Empowering survivors of human trafficking

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As we celebrate success stories of women empowerment around the globe, it is important not to overlook the women less fortunate, who if and when empowered, have a similar capacity to shine. The International Labor Organization estimates that over 21 million women, children, and men are trafficked globally for sexual exploitation, involuntary labour, petty crimes, begging, forced labour, removal of organs and for other exploitative purposes, with profits exceeding $150 billion. Over 75% of all trafficking victims detected globally are women and girls (UNODC, 2012).

The latest research by Loomba (2017) focuses on interactions among trafficking survivors, anti-trafficking agencies and the community are examined in the form of actively and passively transformative exchanges. It presents a framework to better understand services that facilitate reintegration of trafficking survivors into society. The framework identities several ways trafficking agencies can create a supportive community environment to offer services to trafficking survivors and to cultivate and nurture their coping skills towards reintegration into society.

Anti-trafficking agencies staff can help foster social negotiation skills and community ties among survivors of recent trafficking events. This can be accomplished by building an expectation of confidentiality, improving self-presentation and helping them overcome self-blame and self-doubt. Agencies can also work closely with their community to avoid bias, discrimination and/or stigma associated with trafficking survivors.

Survivors of past trafficking events also play a key role helping not only those who have survived trafficking but also those who are still experiencing it. Empowering women survivors of past trafficking events will help trafficked persons, majority of them being women, break out of the vicious cycle of trafficking and re-trafficking.

The most important role that anti-trafficking agencies can play in post-trafficking stages is to understand the importance of creating a supportive community environment, where the trafficking survivors and agency service providers can come together to nurture coping skills. A post-trafficking situation encompasses many different dimensions of reintegration into society; besides the question of attention to physical health, emotional trauma, security and immediate financial support for food and accommodations, it also brings up the question of human rights, and changes in social and political relationships. Livelihoods need to be revived and community ties need to be re-established for trafficking survivors to heal successfully and  reintegrate in society.

To find out more about empowering human trafficking survivors read the full paper ‘Reconstructing Lives: Transformative Services for Human Trafficking Survivors’ published within the Journal of Services Marketing.

Meet the researcher

Arvinder Loomba
Professor of Project, Operations and Supply Chain Management,
School of Global Innovation & Leadership , San José State University


If you would like any more information, please contact me using the email address below.

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