Survivors feel ‘hopeful for better life’ after successful Bangladesh programme

July 12, 2023

Survivors of sexual exploitation have praised Justice and Care for helping them feel ‘strong and hopeful for a better life’ in a new report revealing the successful results of an independent evaluation of a programme in Bangladesh.

Nearly 170 children and adults struggling with intense trauma were safely brought home from India, with most supported with aftercare and economic empowerment activities in the eighteen-month project, funded by Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS).

Systemic change was also sparked by the programme, which shaped the prioritised recommendations for Bangladesh in the US Trafficking in Persons report and pioneered the use of video conference to record evidence from survivors, among other achievements.

Speaking about her experience, a survivor named Shila* said: ‘I was very depressed and totally broken. They provided me counselling support, consoled me. I have gained confidence after their counselling sessions. I have become strong. Now I am very happy and feel very strong.’

Across the project, Justice and Care implemented a holistic approach to support survivors of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) and commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and empower them to reintegrate and build new lives.

Spanning from July 2020 to December 2021, it saw hundreds of survivors given emergency support during Covid lockdowns and a super-cyclone, and ‘Champion Survivors’ who are far along in their recovery journey offer peer-mentoring to others.

Nearly 900 police and border guards were also trained in victim identification, resulting in 67 trafficking victims identified at the border. There was a baseline of no victim identification beforehand.

A total of 75% of survivors who were supported demonstrated improved mental and emotional wellbeing over the course of the project and there were no incidents of re-trafficking.

A comparative study conducted by research partner Population Council endorsed the efficacy of the model after assessing the impact and speaking with 49 survivors on the programme. 

In interviews, survivors reflected that the counselling sessions helped them to lead a normal life, overcome fears and suicidal thoughts and dream about a brighter future.

‘They assured me that they would be by my side and helped me have a better life here…,’ a survivor called Vinati* said. 

‘Actually it was not always about the material things that I received from them, rather the friendship that the case workers provided us, the way they sympathised with us and supported us, that was what mattered most.’

Meanwhile, 88% of survivors were supported with economic empowerment interventions, including vocational training and job placements.

A survivor named Raakhi* added: ‘They used to give many trainings, and it was very helpful to do business. I can solve many problems now, they taught us how to start a new business, how to make profit from it.’

Tariqul Islam, Justice and Care’s Country Director for Bangladesh, has commented saying: ‘We are proud that our programme helped hundreds of survivors start to rebuild their lives.

‘Modern slavery is one of the worst things a human being can be put through and we hope these results show there is hope for every survivor out there.’

Read the full report here.

*Names changed to protect identity

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