Last week, I introduced this topic and spoke about some elements of survivor support but we couldn’t exhaust the topic because of its importance and broadness. Today, I shall conclude it and hope that this brings about the necessary positive change in the society.
The effects of human trafficking, domestic, sexual and gender-based violence can be devastating and long lasting as these vices pose danger to a survivor’s health and can scar a survivor physically, psychologically, cognitively and interpersonally.
First Responder refers to a person, such as the Law enforcements agencies, and Civil Societies (CSOs) whose job entail being the first on the scene of an emergency or trained to immediately respond to a suspicious incident or report of human trafficking and/or domestic, sexual and gender based violence.
First responders are often the first point of contact with the survivors, witnesses and/or scene of crime. In order to prevent disappearance of evidence. First responder must quickly respond and be mindful of potential evidence that may be present and such should be protected and/or collected. On first contact with the survivor, the respondent must obtain particulars of survivor(s). Details such as name, age, health status, name of trafficker, country of origin, country of destination, etc. must be adequately captured. The importance of a proper data collection and documentation cannot be over-emphasised as this is very important for the research purposes, policy formulation, etc.
The next thing is to identify if local authorities attended to the incident and if relevant services were rendered. First responders must ensure that cases are reported to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP). As usual, NAPTIP at its discretion will provide the necessary medical and humanitarian support (including shelter) to victims and prosecute the trafficker or abuser. Also, identify if any perpetrators were arrested. If necessary, first responders can also follow up with the local authorities, such as the police, if they have attended to the incident and obtain the relevant information on possible offenders that could assist the Police/Law Enforcement Agencies in apprehension of the perpetrators.
If the incident has not been attended to yet, first responders should make effort to find the survivor and/or witnesses to obtain information. For instance, it is possible for first offenders to receive anonymous calls stating that some persons are being sexually abused or molested in another country or city etc. He or she must therefore, quickly respond by making investigation and obtaining more information needed to stop the situation.
First responders should also establish if all relevant assistance have been rendered to the survivor and other relevant individuals (family, community, etc.) This assistance could be medical, psychosocial, financial, etc. Some victims of domestic and sexual abuse often require medical attention in treating sexually transmitted diseases such as complications from forced abortions, malaria, pneumonia, tetanus, typhoid, cholera, etc. for some survivors, what they require is counselling support. All they need is a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear that will neither judge nor criticise them, a safe space where they can let out bottled emotions without fear of stigmatisation. This must be provided at all times.
Humanitarian assistance such as business start-up capital, scholarship, free skill acquisition trainings and start up kits etc. must be made available to survivors to empower and prevent them from falling prey a second time. The importance of this cannot be overemphasised as it is one of the most important ways of preventing sexual and gender based violence cannot be over emphasised. In both print and broadcast media, I have always insisted that poverty and ignorance is one of the leading causes of sexual and gender based violence. Research has proven that the rate of sexual and domestic abuse is higher in homes where partners have no sources of income and lack knowledge about peaceful means of conflict resolution such as dialogue. It is also easier for men and women to move away from abusive relationships and marriages if they are financially empowered to take care of themselves and their children.
It is not just enough to offer assistance, we must first of all ascertain the type of assistance needed by survivors. The truth is that all survivors require assistance but not all survivors require the same type of assistance. For some, what they want is business capital. Enrol them in schools, pay their fees and they will drop out. Give them school fees and educational grants and they squander on frivolities. The best thing is to set up a business for them, offer them business mentorship and develop a monitoring and evaluation mechanism and watch them excel. Some have their interest in skill acquisition, they want to learn a trade and set up afterwards. We can encourage them by offering them scholarship and free skill acquisition training opportunity. Some prefer educational scholarship to enable them complete their education, their wish must be granted. Also, attention should be paid to the particular skill preference of a survivor. For instance, if he or she is interested in learning make up and gele tying, forcing him or her to learn fashion designing is an exercise in futility.
In conclusion, elements of survivor support must involve the whole of government and the whole of society at all levels as each has various roles to play in ridding the society of human trafficking. Let us join hands to save humanity. Yes we can!