Monday, January 12, 2009

The 21st century slavery (Part IV)


Challenges faced by AFESIP

There are many causes why human trafficking and forced prostitution occur; lack of education and employment opportunities, poverty, corruption in government,social discrimination, political instability, armed conflict, relocation of communities because of mega projects without proper resettlement and rehabilitation packages, profitability, presence of organized criminal gangs, insufficient punishments against traffickers, lack of law enforcement on global sex tourism industry, growing demand for child sex workers and increased deprivation and marginalization of the poor.

For Cambodian women, the threat is enhanced by the cultural practice where daughters hold the responsibility of looking after the family. Many, out of desperation to help clear family debts are forced into prostitution.

Which is why, one of the most important aspects of AFESIP (Agir pour les Femmes en Situation PrĂ©caire/ Acting for Women in Distressing Circumstances)’s programme is the rehabilitation, vocational skill training and reintegration components. For them, it is not enough to just rescue the women, usually through raids conducted by its protection officers in collaboration with local enforcement authorities, but also to provide them with regular medical and psychological treatments, vocational and life skill trainings, basic education and other recreational activities with the hope of effective reintegration back into their communities.

Due to this wide range of services provided, AFESIP is faced with many challenges. Effective reintegration remains the biggest challenge because at the end of the day, the most important impact and outcome is to ensure that the women are  welcomed back into their family and community with minimal stigmatization, gain some financial independence through employment and thus preventing them from falling into the same cycle of forced dependency.

First step towards rehabilitation

AFESIP has its own clinical team of doctors, psychologists and therapists who carry out regular medical and psychological assessments, including consistent follow-up. While successful reintegration would indicate that AFESIP’s overall objectives have been achieved, it would not be possible if the women are not healed physically and emotionally. All of these women have been subjected to many forms of physical torture and emotional trauma, some to the extent of being permanently disfigured, such as Long Pross.

In addition to this, many are infected with HIV/AIDS since many customers refuse to wear condoms and those who are courageous enough to request for it are often beaten up. Some of the rescued women have died of HIV/AIDS.

There is an endless list of damages which have been inflicted on these women and we cannot begin to conceive how long the healing process will take. For most of them, never.


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