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Dynamics of Countering Human Trafficking in South Asia

Dr. Hassan Abbas led two “Dynamics of Countering Human Trafficking in South Asia” workshops in Islamabad and Lahore, Pakistan from December 17th-23rd.  Over 20 participants attended each.  The workshops focused on fully understanding the nature and magnitude of human trafficking in the broader South Asian region and were geared towards developing local capacity to counter this challenge as well as studying the dynamics that have allowed this menace to thrive at a global scale.  Primarily, the workshops focused on the creation, dissemination and use of standard operating procedures (SOPS) for victim identification and referral to rehabilitation services at the national and provincial level.  A series of structured discussions considered the personal and social consequences of trafficking (violence, health, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.), the ways that trafficking affects children, and the strategies that victims adopt in order to survive. The groups also assessed a variety of efforts being made to help trafficked victims. 

Lastly, the workshops analyzed the intimate entanglements of gender, sexuality, race, and class structures by reading, viewing and engaging with texts, both literary and visual. They especially focused on labor exploitation (particularly in the food and agriculture industry); public health and bodily violence (focusing on organ transplants and commercial surrogacy); sex trade and new technologies used by police and workers alike.

Participants were encouraged to discuss, debate and collaborate in order to develop solutions to the severe threat posed by the growing and troublesome human trafficking trends. They were required to do readings (roughly 50 pages every day) and complete a short paper and presentation in groups at the end of the workshop focusing on their specific recommendations.