Our counter-trafficking team takes a holistic approach, tailored to the specific needs of people who have experienced human trafficking for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and/or forced labour.
As the only clinical organization treating survivors of human trafficking in the UK, our motivation for creating the Counter-Trafficking Project in early 2011 was two-fold. Firstly, we had seen a significant increase in the number of clients referred to us with trafficking experiences. Secondly, with increased political focus on human trafficking in the UK and internationally, we hold a unique place in informing policy based on our specific clinical expertise in working with trafficking survivors.
Abeo* is a female survivor of modern slavery and human trafficking from sub-Saharan Africa. Our primary work with Abeo has been regarding her concern for her young sister and son, whom she was forced to leave behind in her country of origin.
She disclosed to HBF’s Head of Counter Trafficking that she believed these young people have also fallen prey to human traffickers and are being subjected to domestic servitude and sexual exploitation in another African country. Abeo further disclosed that she is being extorted for money in relation to the children, which began by paying for information about their wellbeing and whereabouts but quickly progressed to handing over almost all her income in response to threats made against the children. Disclosing this information was very difficult for Abeo, she has deeply held fear of traffickers and mistrusts all forms of authority; even though she knew it was wrong to be paying money to traffickers and was ashamed, she felt she had no option.
This was a particularly risky situation which had to be managed very delicately to ensure Abeo did not submit to further victimisation. The Counter-Trafficking team has worked extensively with Abeo to report the situation to the UK Human Trafficking Centre and the Metropolitan Police and identify specialist in-country counter-trafficking agencies who may be able to offer practical assistance. The Counter-Trafficking team will continue to support Abeo to liaise with these agencies and find ways to secure safety for the children whilst remaining safe herself; Abeo is a very frightened for herself and the children and will need a lot of support for the foreseeable future.
*all names are pseudonyms