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Success Against Slavery: Strategies for the Future & Promising Practices in International Programming

Adeyemi Oshodi, World Hope International
Remarks at the Roundtable Hosted by the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives and the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Washington, DC
October 28, 2008

I am honored to be here with such amazing organizations who are working on the frontlines, providing support to survivors of trafficking, and raising awareness about it worldwide. Thanks to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons for their efforts and for organizing this roundtable.

What happens to a 13-year-old Cambodia girl who has been sexually assaulted, brutally raped, and sold for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation? Where does she go, this young girl who has scars all over her head and body. Someone so traumatized that she has become violent and aggressive herself toward anyone to tries to touch her, erupting in violent outbursts to anyone who tries to help.

Typically she goes to a long term care facility or a government hospital. But what happens when none of these places have either the capacity or willingness to take her in, some legitimately fearful of the impact a survivor with such severe trauma may have on others in the facility.

For survivors like this 13 year old girl, World Hope International’s Short Term Assessment Center in Cambodia is the answer. The center operates as a sort of emergency room triage for trafficking survivors, addressing their most immediate physical, psychological and security needs.

The Assessment Center opened its doors in June 2005, at a time when there were very few safe places to house/protect survivors of trafficking and rape. When raids on brothels occurred, trafficked survivors were often “dumped wherever a bed was available: in hospitals, police stations, and in shelters with girls and women who were much farther along on the road of recovering from trauma. Of course, it was extremely difficult to perform assessments to figure out where the best place was for each survivor’s unique situation, whether it was back with their families; at a long-term care facility, or elsewhere. The result was that many trafficked survivors ran away almost immediately, most returning to a brothel.

This remains the only short-term assessment center in Cambodia and fills a gap, by providing adequate assessment for survivors of trafficking. Providing a safe place for assessment during the transition period, the center provides a “soft-landing” with which to ease survivors into their transition of aftercare. The center provides safe housing to protect survivors, individual mental health assessments and physical checkups, and places survivors in appropriate after care options.

Over the last three years, we’ve learned that safety is the most immediate need and have catered our program to ensuring that the girls feel safe in order to begin the process. We involve survivors in each decision that is made, allowing them to help guide the process.

We’ve learned that networking with other organizations is vital to the center’s success. We work closely with 16 different organizations and groups, including government, law enforcement, human rights groups and after care facilities. Organizations and other facilities are doing spectacular work in Cambodia and we are happy to work alongside them.



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