This week, Human Trafficking Search is pleased to launch a free, interactive, web-based course on cultural considerations when assisting survivors of human trafficking. The course explores how cross-cultural differences can impact and impede efforts to support victims and offers practical tips and strategies for providing culturally competent services to victims and survivors.
Who? The course is designed for any practitioners who encounter victims and survivors of human trafficking – including victim advocates, law enforcement officers, health professionals, teachers, and social workers.
Why? Many people who have been trafficked come from cultural contexts that are very different from the context of their destination. Trafficking routes tend to flow toward wealthy countries: the wealthier the country the more diverse the origins of victims. For example, in the UK, trafficking victims came from 130 different countries in 2018. In North America, between 2014 and 2017, trafficking victims represented an estimated 95 different home countries. This means that chances are good that in most multicultural societies, helpers and survivors will come from different cultures.
Helpers, by their very definition, seek to identify and support trafficking survivors. However, cross-cultural differences and misunderstanding can erect obstacles to effectively serving survivors. Our cultural values influence how we perceive a situation, how we understand our options, how we interact with our surroundings and how we communicate with others. These values are part of our “design for living.” But we are often unaware of our own values, and they can be difficult to articulate. Our understanding of identity, communication, power, our environment, and even time can be shaped by our culture. Cultural misunderstandings can compound the many other challenges helpers and survivors encounter as they navigate legal, medical, emotional and social labyrinths on the road to recovery and freedom.
What? Those who take this course will be able to:
- give examples of how cultural differences, cultural assumptions and stereotypes can impact interactions between service providers and survivors of trafficking
- identify programmatic and systemic barriers that can impact the accessibility of victim services
- assess their own cultural assumptions and values and how they might differ from those of survivors of trafficking they interact with
- recognize the role power dynamics can play in “helper” / “victim” relationships
- employ culturally responsive practices when conducting interviews with survivors or using translators
- create a personal or organizational action plan to improve culturally competent service delivery
How? The course is free and takes 1- 2 hours to complete. You can go through the lessons in your own time, saving your progress and picking up where you left off. The course includes slides, downloadable handouts, case studies, a video and more to provide an engaging and interactive learning experience. Click here to start the course!
Post and course by Laura Shipler Chico, Human Trafficking Search Research Fellow, social worker and trainer specializing in cross-cultural communication, peace building, and trauma recovery.