We don’t need heroes ... Part 3

What steps can anti-trafficking organisations take towards this?

The purpose of this article is not to demolish. One isn’t taking away from the work being done currently. It takes passion, conviction, determination, grit, and commitment to run anti-trafficking organisations and programmes.

However, the debate is not about intent, it is about the unintended consequences of saviour-led strategies. It is to point out that the protagonist must not be the activist, because the established approach has not created a sizeable dent in trafficking. After three decades of working on anti-trafficking, if there is no evidence of rescued and rehabilitated survivors owning their struggles, then one may ask these organisations to reflect upon some of their assumptions and beliefs.

Here is what I would like to offer to other stakeholders in the anti-trafficking, anti-slavery sector as way forward for their policies and approaches:

  1. Survivors must have a seat at the table

Ensure space, opportunity, and resources to survivors of trafficking or slavery wherein they can audit and measure the help that has been useful to them and that which has been oppressive. Ensure that they get onto the negotiation table while framing and auditing policies and laws. Support leadership platforms owned by survivors of trafficking without control and conditions.

  1. Question and audit organisations regularly

Question the claims of anti-trafficking organisations, demand audits by survivors and external stakeholders, and support the organisations journey of transformation from one of control to that of support.

  1. Law enforcement is not your job

Understand that the job of fighting traffickers is the police’s job. If law enforcement is not able to do this, there are systemic reasons for it, and the best way forward for an activist or organisation is to identify systemic blocks through an organised strategy.

  1. Use a systems thinking approach for intervention design

There is much to be learnt by the anti-trafficking sector, especially given that it has failed in creating a dent in any of the sectors where people are trafficked into indentured labour. We need to shed our saviour-driven approaches and ensure that these inefficient models are not perpetuated because of the fear of ‘What else?’. As donors and partners, we need to confront saviours with the ‘What else?’.

  1. Make duty bearers accountable

Remember that governments must financially bear responsibilities of all first response actions, including assistance to survivors and training of law enforcement or other stakeholders. International and private funding needs to support governments to decide where resources are required and why, and how to monitor and audit anti-trafficking policies and laws.

Article by: Roop Sen – Sanjog