Supporting Effective Rehabilitation and Reintegration for Trafficking Survivors in Bangladesh and India

Bangladesh is a major country of origin for trafficked persons in South Asia. Each year, an estimated 50,000 women and minors are trafficked across its porous border with India, another global trafficking hotspot. Though governments in both countries have made considerable efforts to prevent and combat commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), critical implementation gaps remain, including investments in transnational referral mechanisms and victim-centered and trauma-informed protective measures for trafficking survivors. This brief highlights selected learnings from GFEMS anti-trafficking programming in South Asia between 2020 and 2022. Through capacity-building efforts for critical child welfare and repatriation stakeholders and livelihoods training programs, the Fund’s partners, Justice & Care and Seefar worked to strengthen systems for survivor referral and rehabilitation in Bangladesh and India.

Supporting Survivors to Access Trauma-Informed Rehabilitation and Reintegration Services in East Africa

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) thrives when perpetrators are not held to account. In Kenya and Uganda, this lack of accountability can occur when criminal justice actors don’t have adequate technical capacity or resources. At the same time, survivors of CSEC are extremely vulnerable to being re-trafficked. Reintegration programs must be carefully planned and tailored to the needs of each survivor so that they receive the necessary support to physically and mentally recover from their trauma and the resources, tools, and knowledge necessary for successful social and economic reintegration. This brief provides an overview of programs and research funded by the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) from November 2020 through October 2022.

Respondent-Driven Sampling Study of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) in Kampala, Uganda

ICF International completed the second part of a two-phase study in collaboration with Makerere University that provides estimates of the prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Kampala, Uganda. Both phases of the study used Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS) and in-person interviews. The objective of these studies was to create population-based measures of CSEC to explore the change in CSEC prevalence over time. A second objective was to understand the working conditions of the children involved in CSEC. Prior to the implementation of the first phase of this study, no prior studies had offered an estimate of the prevalence of CSEC in Uganda based on a probability sample, or details on the characteristics of CSEC in the country.

Improving community knowledge, attitudes, and practices can better protect children.

Assessing Change regarding the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Napak District, Uganda

From 2021 to 2022, the Global Fund supported partners Terre des Hommes Netherlands and Dwelling Places to implement the “Community Action to End Child Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation” project (or “Community Action”) in Napak District, Uganda. Targeting both prevention and response to commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) with the aim of protecting 2,000 at-risk children from CSEC, project activities included establishing child right clubs and supporting CSEC victims to return to and remain in school; increasing knowledge among Napak residents of child trafficking laws and policies and responsible parties; and strengthening positive parenting practices.

This briefing note presents a summary of methods, findings and conclusions from a two-time-point study of assessing changes in CSEC in Napak District of the Karamoja region in Uganda. Key findings from timepoint 2 include:

  • Changes in KNOWLEDGE: the intervention had a positive effect on adult knowledge of child trafficking risk factors
  • Changes in ATTITUDES: awareness of the risk of trafficking increased among respondents in the exposed group
  • Changes in PRACTICES: the project had a positive effect on practices regarding caregivers knowing their children’s whereabouts

This study was conducted by ICF in collaboration with Makerere University.

For more key findings, download the brief.

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) in Coastal Kenya

Kenya is a source, transit, and destination country for commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Despite continued efforts on the part of the Kenyan government to eliminate CSEC and other forms of trafficking in persons, Kenya continues to rank a Tier 2 country in the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons report due to uneven prosecution of perpetrators and inadequate social protections for survivors.

The Global Fund commissioned NORC at the University of Chicago to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) to lead an independent research study to obtain time 2 (2022) estimates of the count of CSEC victims/survivors in Kilifi and Kwale counties, known hotspots for child trafficking in Kenya. Employing the same methodological approach used to obtain time 1 estimates (2021), this study revealed an estimated 2,426 children in Kilifi and Kwale are currently engaged in CSEC, accounting for nearly 1 percent of the total population of 13- to 17-year-olds in the two counties. While the overall CSEC prevalence rate dropped from 1.7 percent in 2021 to 0.8 percent in 2022, findings also show over 60 percent of CSEC victims are likely suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and children continue to play an important role in perpetuating the cycle of child sex trafficking.

For more key findings, download the brief.

Increasingly, trafficking is viewed as a crime with little risk.

State of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Maharashtra – 2022

India is a global hotspot for trafficking of women and minors for commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), and Maharashtra, as its financial and commercial capital, is one of the largest destinations for CSE in the country. However, reliably estimating the size of child sex trafficking victims has historically been challenging owing to the hidden nature of this population.

Between 2019 and 2020, the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) supported researchers to produce initial studies on the prevalence of CSEC as well as on traffickers and buyers of CSEC in the state of Maharashtra – these studies were then replicated in 2022.

Replicating the research methods employed during the first phase of research (2019-2020), this study found that, while prevalence remained high, perceptions of risk among potential buyers decreased significantly. Increasingly, trafficking is viewed as a crime with little risk, meaning deterrence remains a challenge. For more findings from both the phase two prevalence study and deterrence study, and for targeted recommendations to reduce CSEC in Maharashtra, read the full brief.

Protecting children is the responsibility of the entire community.

Sexual Exploitation of Children in Kenya: Changes in Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices

From November 2020 to October 2022, GFEMS supported Terre des Hommes Netherlands (TdH) to implement the “Building A Future” (BAF) project. Designed to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Kwale and Kilifi counties- two known sex trafficking hotspots in coastal Kenya- the BAF project centered on community-based prevention methods, formal education for young survivors, vocational skills training, apprenticeships and job skilling for older survivors, and improvement of household livelihoods for the most vulnerable families of survivors of CSEC.

To assess whether BAF’s package of community interventions led to measurable change in community knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) regarding CSEC in coastal Kenya, GFEMS contracted NORC at the University of Chicago to lead an independent evaluation. This endline assessment was commissioned to answer the following questions:

  1. Knowledge. To what extent did TdH-BAF increase awareness of CSEC victim identification, reporting channels,
    and referral mechanisms among community leaders, schools, and households?
  2. Attitudes. To what extent did TdH-BAF improve beliefs among households around positive social norms that
    discourage CSEC?
  3. Practices. To what extent did TdH-BAF improve CSEC reporting, willingness to report/intervene, case monitor-
    ing, and use of response and referral pathways among community leaders and schools?

Among the key findings, the BAF program demonstrated some positive impact on community KAP, and BAF participants demonstrated a positive shift in attitudes towards CSEC on all fronts.

For more key findings, download the brief now.

Understanding what works- and what doesn’t- is how we make progress in ending modern slavery.

Lessons Learned from Inaugural Programs

In 2018, the Global Fund launched its first projects, with the support of the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. This inaugural portfolio focused on sex trafficking in India, the Philippines, and Vietnam, forced labor in India’s construction industry, and exploitation and abuse of overseas migrant workers in the Philippines and Vietnam.

This report is a reflection on key lessons the Global Fund learned over four years of research, programming, adaptation, and partnership. Looking back on what these projects achieved and where they fell short, taking the time to examine learnings, both anticipated and unanticipated – these are necessary steps to make real and sustainable progress towards ending modern slavery.

To match the government will to combat sex trafficking, we are supporting criminal justice actors to effectively try trafficking cases.

Strengthening Criminal Justice Systems for Trafficking Victims in Maharashtra

India is a global hotspot for trafficking of women and minors for commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), and Maharashtra, as its financial and commercial capital, is one of the largest destinations for CSE in the country¹. While obtaining reliable estimates of the number of minor sex trafficking victims has historically been challenging owing to the hidden nature of this population, a 2020 study funded by GFEMS found that child victims comprised approximately 27% of the commercial sex industry in Maharashtra.

There is significant government will to combat sex trafficking in the state. However, the majority of key criminal justice actors lack the necessary attitudes, skills, and resources to effectively investigate and prosecute traffickers and protect survivors.

Between 2018 and 2022, GFEMS supported a series of anti-trafficking research and programming efforts focused on tackling commercial sexual exploitation in South Asia. This brief highlights key learnings from GFEMS-funded efforts to build the capacity of judicial and law enforcement stakeholders in Maharashtra to effectively investigate, prosecute, and try trafficking cases, led by implementing partners International Justice Mission (IJM) and Vipla Foundation. Findings from this programming inform recommendations to institutionalize trauma-informed and child-friendly practices among criminal justice actors and to strengthen more coordinated justice delivery mechanisms for trafficking survivors.

For more findings and recommendations, download the brief.

This research was funded by a grant from the US Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.

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