Caring Connections
Building Continuity in Care For Victims of Trafficking

Estimates drawn from researches (Where Have All The Flowers Gone, 2010, Bringing It All Back Home, 2014) show that less than 3% of survivors of human trafficking are rehabilitated. The poor rate of rehabilitation is due to the following three key reasons:

1. The rehabilitation approach in India and Bangladesh is mostly custodial.

Survivors are detained in shelters after rescue, for anything between 1 year to 3 years, as per the law, which should be the time for her to receive health services for recovery from trauma, and to plan her rehabilitation. However, the experience of most survivors of this period of institutional is of incarceration, with restricted mobility (she cannot leave the shelter premises without permission of the Judicial Court), with no control or rights of deciding on her period of stay in these shelters, with poor or no information about what she can do to protest against or challenge decisions taken on her behalf, without consultation or agreement. In other words, the system seems to assume her to be of diminished capacity with little or no ability to decide for herself. Underlying such policies and practice is a saviour approach where the State or service providers end up deciding and doing things ‘for them’, instead of ‘with them’, thereby reinforcing their victimhood and making them passive recipients of services. Instead of empowering survivors of violence, this approach re-victimises them.

2. Challenges in building rehabilitation plans:

policy in India dictates that survivors of trafficking should return to their own states of origin, or country, and to be reunified with their families if families are found to be willing, supportive and capable of ensuring care and protection of survivors. The service providers and destination states and source states have no joint case management systems, to plan for rehabilitation. Thus, vocational training received in shelters after rescue are often of little or no use once they return to their homes, because the approaches and services between the two service providers are not coordinated.

3. Poor reintegration services:

the greatest focus and attention of the State and NGOs have gone towards running post rescue rehabilitation shelters, and there are very weak services for survivors after they return to their homes where they face challenges of poverty, shame and stigma, lack of opportunities for employment, training or education, or any support services. These (rural) areas lack any trained or skilled social workers, and NGOs and community based organisations in these areas have weak capacity to draw upon funding to build support services. International organisations (foundations, intermediaries or institutional donors) often do not have the capacity to directly support rural organisations due to barriers of communication and expected norms of institutional capacity from their partners. Caring Connections is a capacity building programme that helps service providers in different states and countries develop a comprehensive case management system and use a restorative approach of care in place of a custodial approach. The programme builds skills in social workers and counsellors working in shelters (post rescue rehabilitation centres) and those working with survivors in their families (after they return back home) on the following:
  1. How to enable survivors to develop their own rehabilitation plans, help them make choices and decisions in the process, work with them and not ‘for them’.
  2. How to facilitate linkages between survivors and other service providers, enabling survivors to take initiative to seek care and help from those who are responsible to do so.
  3. How to support survivors to resist, defend and challenge stigma and discrimination, that they could be experiencing in their families, communities or from service providers and duty bearers.
  4. How to use develop monitoring and evaluation tools/ instruments to measure to what extent rehabilitation programme is rights based and restorative, and not service based and custodial.
  5. How to manage information and data effectively to report to stakeholders (policy makers and duty bearers), diagnose deficiencies in the system.
  6. How to identify one’s own attitudes, biases and prejudices – and how they may impact one’s work with survivors, and how to work with oneself to challenge prejudices.
The programme uses an online information management system to collate data to help track implementation, measure efficiency, output and outcome of services. Trainings are offered to programme managers for their orientation and how to manage the programme. Ultimately, Sanjog aims to build an inter-state and cross border case management system, with support from the States, that will include policy reformulation (changing custodial laws and practices into ones based on a restorative approach), capacity building of service providers and build systems for management of services.

Current location of implementation:

India: North 24 Parganas – to be extended to Bangladesh