21 June 2015

Collaborating with corporates in the fight against trafficking

The private sector as partners by Helen Sworn

Knowing our areas of core competency and influence have always been a foundational ethos and practice for us at Chab Dai. A decade ago when Chab Dai was set up as a coalition, there were few partners in the movement outside the NGO sector. 

However, during these years we have seen a new generation of stakeholders who previously had only been seen as the problem and not part of the solution. These partners are from the business sector and, although there is still a level of suspicion between the NGOs and businesses, there is also a growing collaboration emerging internationally.

Businesses supporting human rights

Monique Villa
This was evident at the recent Thomson Reuters Trust Forum conference in Hong Kong, which I was privileged to attend. Among the 200 attendees, more than 70% were corporate businesses - law firms, the banking industry, PR and communications companies, as well as government figures and journalists who are, at last, interested in reporting on the more complex, emerging and in-depth issues beyond the sensationalized media.

During the conference, these corporate representatives were put on the spot by the Thomson Reuters CEO, Monique Villa who had some innovative grassroots organisations present their needs. There ensued an open floor request for pledges of support from the attendees. I was fascinated and encouraged to see lawyers, design companies and others publicly commit their expertise to these causes. 

Stopping exploitation with multi-sector collaboration

Andrew Forrest
One of the keynote speakers was Andrew Forrest, an Australian mining magnate who stepped back from his corporate position four years ago to dedicate his time, energy and significant resources and influence to the anti slavery cause.  An interesting observation was how he started with his own corporation, carrying out a supply chain audit and calling out others to do the same.

Of course, we still have a long way to go but I think that we are beginning to take hold of the vision and need for multi-sector collaboration, which is the only way we will ever see an end to the exploitation of human lives.

Hong Kong image by Shizhao, used under Creative Comms licence. Other images courtesy of © Thomson Reuters.

14 June 2015

Christa Sharpe: '10 years of remembrance, thankfulness & celebration'

Cambodia is fortunate to have one of the most effective, unifying, impactful anti-trafficking and sexual abuse coalitions in the world – the Chab Dai Coalition. Well, I would say Chab Dai is the most effective, but I’m biased! International Justice Mission Cambodia (IJM) has been fortunate to be one of the original members of Chab Dai since its founding in 2005. I can’t imagine the anti-trafficking movement in Cambodia without Chab Dai.  Well, to be accurate, I was in Cambodia before Chab Dai existed, so I actually knew what the movement was like without Chab Dai, which increases my joy even more as we celebrate their 10-year anniversary.

The value of looking back

As member agencies with powerful missions, facing urgent needs and engaging with unimaginable violence, we often find ourselves primarily looking forward and focusing on the pain of this world. But, God is clear that we are also to live and serve in the disciplines of remembrance, thankfulness and celebration.

Remembering the faithfulness, gifts, miracles and progress from the past fuels us with hope in the midst of our current battles and circumstances. Practicing thankfulness brings peace and allows us to value others around us. When we celebrate the victories – large and small – we infuse ourselves and our teams with deep joy - a joy that would be impossible had we only focused on the deep pain and need around us.  

Human trafficking in Cambodia: 10 years ago

I remember what Cambodia was like the year Chab Dai Coalition started. I remember the thousands of children being openly prostituted in brothels that lined the streets of communities across the nation while traffickers, pimps and business owners were raking in money. I remember criminals and abusers who did not know the law, or what was right or wrong under the law. I remember dozens of pedophiles walking the streets holding hands with the children they planned to abuse, with no fear of being confronted or arrested.

I remember a decimated public justice system filled with officials who had almost no training to do their jobs, felt ineffective to stop crime, were not yet leading the anti-trafficking movement, and were sometimes even feared by the very people who needed them the most. I remember a citizenry who did not trust that their justice system could work for them, did not see the media advocating for their protection, and did not know the law or their rights under the law.

I remember a private aftercare system that was small, weak, uncoordinated, with almost no best practice procedures in place and extremely low survivor restoration rates. I remember NGOs who were not unified, not sharing or learning with one another, but were desperate for support.

The impact of coalition

I am thankful that the founders of Chab Dai saw the reality of violence and dysfunction, but had the vision to see what might be possible if they brought together like-minded organizations to provide shared learning, equipping, guidance and best practice models.

I am thankful that Chab Dai created a forum for us to learn from, share with, challenge, and encourage one another. I am thankful that this collaborative learning environment has raised private aftercare’s quality of service and protection to trafficking and sexual abuse survivors throughout the nation.

I am thankful for healthy accountability, that we, as members, value and embrace in order to be more competent, ethical, transparent, research-based and effective in our work. I am thankful for Chab Dai’s innovation and vision to bring unity to the movement in Cambodia and around the world through the Global Learning Community and the Freedom Collaborative. I am thankful that Chab Dai fills in vital gaps through their important research, hotline, community education, and working together with the government.

A time to celebrate

I celebrate all the miracles that have happened in Cambodia over the past decade. I celebrate that tens of thousands of Cambodian and Vietnamese citizens have been educated, trained, and empowered, and now courageously identify trafficking and abuse, report it, prevent it, and are growing in their trust that their public justice system will respond to their cries for help.

I celebrate the hundreds of police officers, social workers, court officials and community leaders who have been trained, equipped, and now confidently lead the fight against trafficking. I celebrate the new laws, policies and procedures that have led to greater accountability, government leadership and effectiveness. 

I celebrate that the combined efforts of the public justice system, community education, prevention programs and aftercare services have led to a decrease in prevalence of the commercial sexual exploitation of minors in the three provinces with the highest markets - from 15-30% of total sex workers in the early 2000s, down to around 2% today. And, the most significant decrease is the rate of young minors aged 15 and under in commercial prostitution - down to under .1%. Chab Dai members have been a part of bringing about all this change and progress, along with our government leaders and partners.

The impossible is possible

What seemed impossible 10 years ago has become possible. We can look back and see more progress, more miracles, and more lives restored than we imagined. When we choose to remember what was, we can see more clearly what is, which gives us hope for what can be.

We are all working to maintain and deepen the progress made in the fight against sex trafficking. We are just starting to grow the movement to end labor and marriage trafficking.  And sexual abuse and domestic violence are still at epidemic rates in Cambodia. But what we have all seen is that justice for the poor is possible.  

What has already been achieved in the fight against sex trafficking can happen – and at even faster rates – in the battles that lay before us, because lessons have been learned, the systems are stronger and the government is leading the way. And, as we have done for the past 10 years, we will do this together. In shared learning. In unity. In accountability. In coalition.

Seek the Lord and His strength; seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles… Psalm 105:4-5a

What do you remember as you think back over the past 10 years?  What are you thankful for?  What do you celebrate?

Thanks to Christa for writing this guest post. You can find the latest news on IJM projects in Cambodia and more about the organisation as a whole, over on their main website, www.ijm.org.

'Hands' image property of Chab Dai. All other images provided by IJM. 

07 June 2015

The Chab Dai Charter goes online!

This week saw the official launch of our new Charter online database at the Chab Dai Charter feedback meeting here in Phnom Penh. Member organisations travelled from as far as Siem Reap and Battambang to show their continuing commitment to excellence, through the Charter’s set of professional standards in combating human trafficking and abuse. With this in mind, we’ve put together a short guide on everything to do with the Charter, how it works and how it can benefit organisations.

What is the Chab Dai Charter?

Chab Dai CharterChab Dai created the Charter in 2011 in order to give our members and ourselves a common set of 15 principles to work towards, grouped under four core values: Protection, Participation, Transparency and Collaboration.

Moreover, the Charter is designed as a practical tool, containing specific action points in order to achieve these principles. By self-evaluating on everything from encouraging creative thinking at work to being mindful of inclusion, we can continue to raise our standards as a coalition.

How is the Charter implemented?

The practical side of the Charter was actually created using feedback from our members. Charter-Doorsteps Team visit member organisations and guide the staff through a participatory process of self-evaluation, with each staff member scoring criteria based on how they think the organisation is doing. These could be provision of specific trainings, procedural points, like how to raise an issue about a senior member of staff or PTSD staff care for those dealing with trauma in their day-to-day jobs.
A report with Improvement Action Plans (IAPs) is then produced, based on the collected scores, which the organisation can use to identify strengths and implement changes where needed. Learning grants are also given to selected organisations that may need extra resources to complete the process and staff are also encouraged to share lessons learned at our training events.

The Charter database

The new database, designed by Rob Perrett, allows Charter members to record and update their information and assessments instantly online. It also enables NGOs to produce data for use in donor reports, with information already packaged into charts and recommendations, saving a lot of staff time.

Practical assessment tool - Chab Dai CharterWhat our members think

Reuk Saray of WEC and Bridge of Hope project told us about his experience of the Charter implementation:

“When I first started with WEC, no one introduced me to the Child Protection Policy – I just signed without knowing anything about it. Now, we understand the importance of what it is and how we need to protect children.”

Destiny Rescue’s Kimbra Smith also had lots of positive things to say about the Charter.

“Just spending time with other members, our staff benefit from hearing about other’s strengths and weaknesses. Once they have connected with other staff, they feel comfortable contacting them to ask questions or for resources. They then feel like they can hold their head up high and be proud of their development.”

The Charter around the globe

The Charter has proved so effective that it’s been used as a model for our partners in places as diverse as Costa Rica, Fiji, Indonesia and Thailand, with one team saying it was ‘the most practical tool for assessment they had ever used.’

The Charter has made a huge difference not only to our members but to us as well - Chab Dai was the first organisation to go through Charter process. To us, it means always striving for best practice when it comes to supporting survivors of abuse in all its forms, and doing this together as a coalition.

As one member said: “It’s not realistic that organisations can be perfect in every way, so we are very positive about the Charter – we show other members our IAPs to show them that we need to improve too!”

24 May 2015

Esther Pastores: ‘My motivation lies in supporting my Cambodian colleagues’

As part of our #10yearsofChabDai series, we asked Esther Pastores of World Hope International for her thoughts working in relief and development in Cambodia on and off for more than twenty years. One of our member NGOs from the very beginning, WHI Cambodia also celebrates a decade in the fight against human trafficking and exploitation this year…

Can you give us a summary of your work in Cambodia since the 1980s and how you came to the position of Country Director at World Hope International?

My initial experience working with Cambodians was in 1987- 89: coordinating mother, child health and community services in Site 2 South refugee camp, Thailand with Christian Outreach Relief and Development (CORD). Following this I had the opportunity to help establish primary health care programs in Kampot and Prey Veng from 1990-93, during the UNTAC era.

After a few adventures in other countries I returned to Cambodia in 1998 as Country Director with CORD and subsequently worked with Hagar Women’s Shelter as Operations Manager. I really came to work with WHI by default, having initially agreed to evaluate the assessment centre (AC) program, was then invited back to implement the 40 or so recommendations for improving the work. And I’ve remained with WHI ever since!

What is your motivation for working in the – often harrowing – field of human trafficking aftercare and prevention?

Speaking personally my motivation essentially lies in supporting my Cambodian colleagues, in whatever line of humanitarian work they are engaged. Over the years it has been a privilege and a joy to walk alongside and share in their learning.  At the AC my colleagues are the ones doing the real work of ministering to abused children – they are the frontline folk dealing with issues and restoring broken lives; I’m happy in the knowledge that by ensuring they are provided the best work environment possible, through strong team relationships, learning opportunities, adequate staff care, pastoral care (and benefits package), that this will ultimately contribute to an effective ministry.

What prompted WHI to join the Chab Dai coalition?

WHI and Chab Dai have very much ‘grown up’ together, both organisations this year celebrating our respective 10 year anniversaries. At one time our organisations shared a common office, as a result of which we developed close relationships between staff and shared knowledge of each other’s programs and priorities.

As Chab Dai, WHI believes strongly in the significance of partnership, shared learning, pooled resources and all the other benefits of working collaboratively – joining the Coalition was therefore a given for us.

How has Chab Dai membership made a difference to WHI?

The list really is quite extensive – from the different forums to the Charter project we wouldn’t have become the organisation we are today without Chab Dai’s input. Personally I have found the various research projects commissioned to be particularly helpful. One may often have hunches about certain aspects of the work, but research really provides the evidence needed for developing sound programs.

What changes have you seen – both on the ground and governmental – to do with the human trafficking issue in Cambodia since 2005?

Probably these are best summarised in the Journey of Change documented by Chab Dai in 2013 – I would say a growing maturity of organisational capacity, but also perhaps a waning emphasis on real engagement between partners.

And what changes do you hope to see in the next ten years?

Better education systems, especially for girls; more jobs and opportunities, particularly in rural Cambodia, to lessen the need for migration.

Thanks to Esther for talking to us. If you want to know more about World Hope International and its work, take a look at their website here.

Images provided by World Hope International.

18 May 2015

Rohingya crisis: migrant status does not alter human rights

The sad story of the Southeast Asian migration crisis has saturated media publications across the world this week. Yet the issue continues to be unresolved, meaning the people crammed on boats with no food supplies and in often abusive conditions continue to drift between the Indian Ocean and the Andaman Sea, and between countries who continue to turn them away.

Along with migrants from Bangladesh, the current crisis in a large part involves the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar, fleeing a harsh and violent life in a country which refuses to acknowledge their ethnic minority status.

Reportedly, the government of Malaysia has told the Rohingya to ‘go back to your country’. There have been similar reactions in the rest of the region. But how can this be the response, when Rohingyas effectively have no country to call their own?

Unrecognising the Rohingya

According to recent field research by Queen Mary University, London, conditions in the Rakhine State - home to the minority Muslim population of Myanmar – are tantamount to genocidal, and have been escalating since the 1970s.

The Rohingya face restrictions on education, movement, land rights – conditions which lead to extreme poverty, starvation and death. Outright persecution has reached a head in recent years such as the riots at Sittwe in 2012, 200 deaths there the result of clashes between Rohingya, the Myanmar army and police.

Despite the dangers of migration, for many Muslims who leave the predominantly Buddhist shores of Myanmar, it’s an escape, not a choice.

Refugees face ‘maritime ping-pong’

This past week has seen eight boatloads of migrants found in the waters off Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar and thousands of people displaced with nowhere left to turn. Almost half of those migrants are children aged 12 and under.

Described as ‘a game of maritime ping-pong with human life’ by the International Organisation for Migration in Bangkok, nation after nation has declined responsibility for people discovered in their territorial waters. UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon has called for Southeast Asian leaders to uphold international human rights and refugee laws to avoid these ‘pushbacks’ which are likely to lead to more deaths out at sea.

Human traffickers take advantage

Ban-Ki Moon
Brokers and people-smugglers who ferry migrants to places like Thailand and Malaysia have been taking full advantage of the stalemate out on open water. Crack-downs on immigrants at the Thai border have prompted some traffickers to simply abandon their human cargo. Others are holding refugees on board or in Thai camps until their families can pay for their onward journey or even pay to have them returned home again, so rendering their efforts futile.

This is likely to continue, as long as authorities consider migrants and trafficked people as criminals to be dealt with using blanket actions, rather than individuals, each with fundamental human rights.
So where does the answer to the crisis lie? In challenging Myanmar’s oppressive system, one that continues to break down Rohingya rights and communities to keep them disenfranchised and powerless? In deciding who is ‘to blame’ for the boatloads of people dying as they become trapped in oceanic limbo?

There remains no clear-cut solution, not at least until nations take responsibility for the fellow human beings involved and begin to co-operate with each other, instead of passing the burden. It was Martin Luther King that said ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ and countries like Ecuador and the wider Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) reflected this as they offered support last week.

But in light of factors like Australia’s unapologetic ‘stop the boats’ policy influencing global attitudes towards displaced people, not to mention the similar crisis in Mediterranean Europe, it seems a small hope that someone will make the braver gesture, and welcome the boats in.

Images from the public domain and The Official CTBTO photostream, via Creative Commons.