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The Asia Foundation and Center for Poverty Analysis studies Screening and Support Services for Trafficked Persons

Findings shared at CEPA Open Forum on ‘Improving Access to Support Services for Victims of Human Trafficking’

The Asia Foundation (TAF) and the Center for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) publicly shared the findings from the study on “Optimizing Screening and Support Services for Victims of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Trafficking in Persons (TIP)” recently via Zoom conference. The program took place during the CEPA’s 65th Open Forum on November 30, 2021, held on the theme of ‘Improving Access to Support Services for Victims of Human Trafficking’.

The multi-country study commissioned by The Asia Foundation was carried out in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka with funding from United States Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The national level reports were compiled by the Center for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) for Sri Lanka, FXB India Suraksha for India, and Social Science Baha for Nepal while the regional study will be released in the first quarter of 2022.

The Asia Foundation hopes to engage key policymakers to integrate the research recommendations into their current efforts through evidence-based policy advocacy. As such, The Asia Foundation, Sri Lanka and CEPA will conduct several closed-door meetings with key government stakeholders in the coming months.

Chandima Arambepola (CEPA), Dr. Ramani Jayasundere (The Asia Foundation Sri Lanka) and Professor Camena Gunaratne (Open University of Sri Lanka) presented at this national convening. The national convening was attended by a diverse audience with representatives from NGOs, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Development Organizations, academics and other parties and stakeholders with interest in this field.

Chandima Arambepola commenced the forum by introducing the study background, methodology, the existing policy framework and the National Plan of Action to Address Gender-based Violence (GBV), conceptualizing Trafficking in Persons (TIP) as a form of GBV. Ms. Arambepola further examined challenges in victim identification stemming from how service providers understand GBV and TIP which leads to gaps in service provision. She elaborated on the recommended way forward to enhance the existing support framework to provide better access to services for victims.

In the next session Dr Ramani Jayasundere explained the interplay between TIP and GBV, and how TIP is treated differently from GBV. She spoke of how GBV is based on gender inequalities in a patriarchal system and unequal power relations between men and women. TIP is also based on unequal power relations but is a complex crime driven by criminal syndicates to earn profit. Dr. Jayasundere explains how TIP is one of the worst forms of GBV, and GBV is an important driver of human trafficking and a tool to control women, children and men.

Professor Camena Gunaratne concluded the panel by discussing the legal and regulatory framework governing TIP in Sri Lanka that consist of international and regional Conventions, in addition to domestic laws, regulation and policies. Professor Gunaratne further elaborated on the elements of trafficking and how it has become a complex, constantly evolving phenomenon requiring concerted, multipronged counter-efforts by both international and national actors. She felt that there was not enough focus in Sri Lanka on the various national plans on internal trafficking of women into working as sex workers and child labour.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region is focused on good governance, women’s empowerment and gender equality, inclusive economic growth, environment and climate action, and regional and international relations. Headquartered in San Francisco, The Asia Foundation works through its network of offices in 18 Asian countries. Read more about the Foundation’s work.

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