AAT works using a regional approach, which means that we don’t limit our work to a certain geographic area but work wherever necessary. Our experience has shown that a transnational crime such as trafficking can’t be fought when limiting yourself to certain areas, and our staff must be ready to cross borders in their work in situations where it is not possible of efficient to cooperate with a partner who has strong presence in the geographical area concerned.
Human trafficking is the recruitment, transport, receipt and harboring of people for the purpose of exploiting them sexually or exploiting their labor. It always includes some form of coercion or deceit to lure the victims into the situation and keep them there: for example debt bondage, threatening with hurting the victim’s family, etc. AAT concentrates on helping victims of trafficking for sexual abuse, whereas other organizations specialize in fighting labor trafficking. Most of AAT’s trafficking cases include trafficking for forced prostitution, but we have also handled other kinds of cases, such as a well-known case of trafficking for surrogacy.
There are very few reliable statistics on the amount of human trafficking victims, but trafficking occurs in almost all parts of the world and keeps increasing. According to an UNFPA estimate, between 700,000 and 2 million women are trafficked across borders each year – or 4 million per year if we include those who are trafficked within their own country.
More information about trafficking in the Mekong region from the UNIAP website.
According to the United Nations, “sexual exploitation” means any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.” AAT works with all kinds of sexual exploitation but especially with prostitution, which we consider to be a form of exploitation. In the region where we work, a large part of persons exploited in prostitution are children – mostly girls between the ages of 15 and 17 but sometimes as young as 12.
Sexual abuse refers to sexual crimes such as rape or child sexual abuse, and it is different from sexual exploitation in the sense that the main objective of the perpetrator is the act itself and not making a profit. The UN defines it as follows: “The term “sexual abuse” means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions.” Although AAT’s main focus is in fighting trafficking and sexual exploitation, we have dealt with various cases of rape and child abuse and in our projects, a part of our work consists of building communities’ capacities to eradicate sexual abuse and provide assistance to victims.
How we work
AAT works to eliminate sexual exploitation through various different programs, aimed to cover the whole process of suppressing trafficking and sexual exploitation/abuse and to provide support to victims. Although AAT’s work focuses mostly on cases of trafficking in the form of forced prostitution, we also handle and provide support in other kinds of complex cases of commercial sexual exploitation (for example commercial surrogacy) and other kinds of sexual abuse (for example rape, or sexual abuse in a situation of labor trafficking).
Our program include:
Prevention / Empowerment: Actions and strategies to prevent trafficking and sexual abuse from happening, or preventing former victims from being re-trafficked; and to provide women and girls who have returned home or who are at high risk for being trafficked with increased opportunities to generating income and making independent choices. Educative programs about sex related risks and reproductive health are applied in schools and in the community.
Protection: Investigating potential cases of trafficking / sexual exploitation, rescuing victims from situations of exploitation and identifying victims among detained immigrants. Transferring victims to appropriate safe places.
Assistance: Social and legal assistance to victims after rescue or identification from a situation of exploitation, until their return home. The aim of the Assistance Program is to provide access to the necessary emergency services, guarantee compliance with the victim’s rights and prepare her for a safe and successful return.
Return: Planning and organizing the victims’ return home after their time in a shelter, including a mapping of family and economic conditions to ensure a safe return.
Regional Coordination: We use the experience we have gained in the field to contribute to regional processes, where authorities aim to design appropriate systems and legislation to suppress trafficking and guarantee an efficient prevention, protection, repatriation, and reintegration of women and children.