A group of human trafficking survivors from across Cambodia came together for a three-day ‘Voices of Human Trafficking Survivors Forum’ between the 25th-27th September to express their expert opinions on key anti-trafficking issues, evaluate services for survivors and voice their recommendations on anti-trafficking programs and policy.
The forum was held in Siem Reap by USAID’s Cambodia Countering Trafficking-in-Persons program carried out in partnership with Winrock International, and was facilitated by five of the program’s partners. Two days of in-depth group discussion was followed by a final day for the survivors to present their recommendations directly to policymakers and practitioners.
The survivors delivered 37 recommendations on prevention, protection and prosecution to representatives from NGOs, donors and the Cambodian government. The recommendations presented by the survivors included offering skills training to survivors that meet their needs, requesting that police and courts don’t discriminate against and use respectful language with survivors and increasing job opportunities in Cambodia to prevent trafficking. For the full list of recommendations in English and Khmer, visit https://ctipcambodia.wordpress.com/re/.
Addressing the survivors group on the final day of the forum, USAID Cambodia Mission Director Polly Dunford said, ‘The feedback that we have heard from all of you today…will be extremely useful to us as we begin to design our future program that we hope will be even more effective in helping and assisting you and preventing this from happening in the future.”
“I accept all the challenges proposed by the survivors at the forum today. This forum on the topic of voices of human trafficking survivors is meant to stop trafficking”, said H.E. Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State and Permanent Vice Chair of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking.
The form allowed the survivors to voice their opinions on existing services, which is significant as survivors often do not feel free to provide candid feedback to programs due to fear of being excluded from further support. The recommendations made by the survivors will ensure that programs are meeting the real needs of this group.
Importantly, the forum has also facilitated the formation of a survivors’ network that will continue advocacy at a national level. It is expected that the network will be formalized in the future based on the needs of this leading survivors group.
Over a four-year period, the project will provide 2,000 trafficking survivors with support services, and will strengthen survivor protection and services through training of 2,000 service providers.