Services for trafficked males ‘lag far behind’

Services for trafficked males ‘lag far behind’

Many Cambodian men trafficked into forced labour are missing out on vital support services upon returning to their homes, research launched yesterday has found.

The study by humanitarian group Hagar identified a number of shortfalls within reintegration services for trafficked men, which “lag far behind” those available for females despite men and boys comprising a greater share of trafficking survivors, according to some agencies.

Author Kate Day said a lack of funding and inadequate victim screening, often tied to perceptions of gender, were among major challenges identified.

“We are missing a lot of cases simply because we are not seeing men as potential victims, whereas perhaps we would look more closely if they were women and children,” Day said.

The report recommends a budget increase for the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, as most services are currently provided by about 12 NGOs.

Overburdened, with typical reintegration assistance costing $800 to $1,000, Day said only four of the providers provided long-term care, the most beneficial approach.

She said the report combined existing research and interviews with 33 stakeholders and 18 survivors of trafficking, many of whom struggled with debt and mental health issues long after their ordeal.

In Cambodia, between 2011 and 2014, 88 per cent of trafficking victims helped by the International Migration Organisation and 59 per cent assisted by USAID’s Counter Trafficking in Persons Program were men or boys.

Fishing vessels were the most common sector exploiting trafficked workers, followed by agriculture, construction and factory work.

Among victims featured in the report is Sophal of Siem Reap, who spent nine months on a Thai fishing vessel before being dumped in Malaysia, where he languished 8 months in a detention centre.

But returning, he said, felt even harder. “I was ashamed to come back to Cambodia…I was ashamed because first of all, I had no money at all in prison,” he said.

“I was also ashamed for my family, because the community would say ‘you are a poor family, and you have a son who is in prison.”

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