Hagar launches new research on Cambodian trafficked men.


PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA (August 21, 2015) — Research exploring the trends in trafficking of Cambodian men, the needs of survivors and the extent of reintegration assistance available for trafficked men, conducted by Hagar, was unveiled today to Her Excellency Chou Bun Eng, members of the Government and other NGO partners.

“Hagar’s research reviews the availability of existing services in country and opportunities to improve aftercare for men. The findings highlight that after experiencing extreme human rights abuses first-hand, many survivors return only to find little to no support in helping them adjust and reintegrate. We are passionate about using an evidence-based approach to improving services and this report is a wake-up call to NGOs, donors, and the government about both the need and the opportunities to improve services specifically for male survivors.” Steve Penfold, Country Director of Hagar Cambodia, said today.

Trafficking of Cambodian men has been increasingly acknowledged in recent years. Cambodian men and boys are trafficked into a variety of sectors, including fishing, construction, agriculture and factory work, as well as other sectors. Victims are often subjected to physical and psychological abuse at the hands of their employers.

According to Kate Day, Hagar’s Trafficking in Persons Researcher, all service providers described the immense challenges survivors can face when they return. These include unstable employment, unemployment and debt to severe health or mental health problems.

“Various service providers recalled survivors struggling with nightmares, memory loss or other signs of post-traumatic stress. Others recalled survivors returning with injuries from forced labour or scabies after time in detention. Some survivors returned to find their wives remarried, or families blaming them for their exploitation, underlining complex social challenges.” Ms Day said.

The report outlines the extent of assistance available for men, most of which is provided by international and non-government organisations. Existing support includes basic assistance on arrival, legal aid and vocational training, long-term case management[1] and support for economic empowerment.

“Reintegration assistance makes a huge difference in the lives of victims. Long-term case management, which leads to the most comprehensive assistance, has helped some survivors become economically stable, gain confidence or overcome mental health problems,” said Ms Day.

However, the report emphasizes that many trafficked men miss out on comprehensive assistance. “One key issue is that not all survivors are referred for long-term case management. Some survivors are not referred for any assistance at all: others referred only for partial assistance. This highlights the need for first responders to systematically refer all survivors to case managers who can monitor and address their changing needs,” Ms Day said.

Another key issue highlighted is a lack of funding. “Significant resources are needed to follow up survivors in remote areas and support them long-term. Service providers suggested the need to substantially increase funding to enable comprehensive assistance.” Ms Day added.

The report also underlines challenges maintaining contact with highly mobile survivors, training social workers to identify health and mental health issues, and particular challenges around gender perceptions and differences assisting male clients.

Recommendations outlined in the report include increasing the operational budget of MoSVY, systematically referring survivors for case management and exploring broader opportunities for economic empowerment.

IOM Cambodia, who also spoke at the research launch, emphasized the importance of reintegration assistance.

“In last six months alone, IOM has assisted with the return of hundreds of Cambodian men who were trafficked into the fishing industry, mostly from Indonesia. Almost all of these survivors bear physical and psychological scars as a result of cruel abuse at the hands of their employers. Survivors are often ashamed and rarely share their stories with families upon return which can lead to isolation, mental health issues and in some cases substance abuse and violence that impacts on their successful reintegration. We need to ensure access to proper mental health care and long-term reintegration that allows trafficking survivors to successfully recover, otherwise they will continue to suffer and be extremely vulnerable to being re-trafficked.” said Brett Dickson, Program officer of IOM’s Migrant Assistance Program in Cambodia.

“Hagar’s research suggests that many repatriated survivors will face ongoing challenges and would benefit significantly from reintegration assistance. Funding is urgently needed to enable the necessary support” said Ms Day.

The report, titled (Re)integration of Cambodian trafficked men: Trends in trafficking and available aftercare services, is available on the Hagar website: http://www.hagarinternational.org/international/



For more information, contact Kate Day, TIP researcher, Hagar Cambodia, +855 92 976 496 kate.day@hagarinternational.org

[1] Case management– the process of assessment, planning, facilitation and advocacy for options and services to meet a survivor’s individual (re)integration needs. This involves maintaining regular contact with the survivor, routinely monitoring his or her wellbeing, and referring to the appropriate services as and when needed.