Are victims of human trafficking powerless?

Are victims of human trafficking powerless?

Workshop as part of the International Congress on Human Trafficking 28-29 November 2014.


25 November 2014

Workshop as part of the International Congress on Human Trafficking 28-29 November 2014.

Stronger Together at FairWork (Netherlands), Tavistock Institute and FairWork Academie are delighted to invite you to a two-hour workshop in the framework of the International Congress on Human Trafficking taking place 28-29 November 2014 organized by the University of Coimbra.

Slavery is not something from the distant past or something that happens in poor, remote countries or in history books only. Slavery is closer than you might think. Slavery also exists in Europe. You are a victim of human trafficking when you are exploited or misused by someone and you are not able to escape. It makes no difference if you were brought to Europe or if you came here of your own free will.

Many victims are traumatized when they reach out. The experiences of great fear and the horror of helplessness have caused permanent pain from which they suffer in daily life. They have to also deal with other challenges, like cultural differences. It is also unclear whether they can stay in the country of destination. They often stay without independent housing and even worse – they lack a place for themselves. Such difficulties have the potential to become serious obstacles to their recovery and make personal growth difficult. As victims, they have not been given the chance to live a life – to survive was their only goal for a long time. They need time to recover. However, sometimes for years, they can only develop themselves in a limited way – improve their social contacts and get into education and employment.

But this does not mean victims are powerless. One of the ways to empower them is to recover their inner strength. They are very resilient and show a lot of power. Giving meaning to their experiences by finding a collective voice is a good way forward. In this workshop we want to share with you stories of victims who have rebuilt their lives:

  • How did they cope with their past?
  • What difficulties did they have to face?
  • And what are the positive effects of sharing their stories?

From having hope, using solidarity, and telling their story to having opportunities to re-build their life and to find a voice as a victim and the words as a migrant, the ways to empowering victims can take different directions depending on their state of recovery and the context in which support is offered. We will therefore look at the challenges as well:

  • How do the victims’ symptoms of trauma and how the own attitudes and drive to protect, carried by people in the support system, can stay on the way of empowerment?
  • How do supporting professionals work with practicalities, such as language and translation, and the limitations in the economic, social and political environment?
  • How do they work with the uncertainty of victims about legal and residential status?
  • How do we transfer the experience of having a choice to those who have never felt they have a choice, power and control of their own lives?

In this workshop we want to explore together the opportunities for victims. The workshop is about sharing successful stories that are worth sharing. It is suitable for students who consider career in victim support but is designed to be equally helpful for those who already have experience in the area. We also welcome policy makers who may want to understand how policies can make difference to the victims’ lives. Researchers can find out how research can be empowering, too. We will work with the knowledge, common sense and understanding about empowerment that we all already have but are sometimes forgetting.

The workshop is a partnership between the Tavistock Institute and FairWork in the Netherlands. Facilitators Christina (Stronger Together/FairWork), Milena (TIHR/ReSAurSE), Romaike (FairWork Academie).

Find out more about the International Congress on Human Trafficking taking place 28-29 November 2014.

Other links:

ReSAurSE: Reviewing social auditing practices to combat exploitative brokering in Southern Europe

Video of Samen Sterk (Stronger Together)

Exhibition on Slavery Past and Present 

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