A trafficking victim’s escape or exit from exploitation is a significant moment. It signals safety, freedom and a way back to one’s life, family and community after months and even years of exploitation and abuse. But “moving on” from trafficking is not uncomplicated. Rather, it is, commonly, a complex, taxing and complicated process that involves significant challenges and setbacks along the way. This paper explores the different levels at which reintegration takes place – individual, family and community – and the (often different, sometimes contradictory) actions and reactions within families and communities over the course of recovery and reintegration. It also outlines some of the tensions, issues and challenges faced within family and community settings during reintegration, issues that are often multi-layered, mutually reinforcing and coterminous.
Tensions and issues within the family center around financial problems (no remittances and the burden of debt); being stressed and distressed following trafficking; feelings of shame and being blame; and damaged or destroyed personal relationships. Community tensions are tied to failed migration and not returning with money; criticism of victims’ “ambition”; victims’ stressed or “problematic” behavior once home; discrimination because of “unacceptable” behaviors (e.g. prostitution, pregnancy); and jealousy about victims being assisted. The study also identifies sites of resilience and support within the family and community, which support, bolster and galvanize reintegration success.
This paper is part of a research series of papers produced in the context of the NEXUS Institute’s longitudinal research project Protecting the Unassisted and Underserved. Evidence-Based Research on Assistance and Reintegration, Indonesia, which aims to enhance the evidence base about successful reintegration of trafficked persons in Indonesia.
2. Research methodology
2.1 Methodology and data sources
This longitudinal research, conducted with 108 Indonesian trafficking victims, has five data sources as outlined below:
1. Repeat interviews with trafficked persons in Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java and South Sulawesi. First round interviews were conducted with 108 victims (49 males, 59 females); second round interviews were conducted with 66 respondents (24 males, 42 females) approximately six to nine months after the first interview.
2. Informal communication with 30 trafficked persons between formal interviews – speaking by telephone, exchanging text messages and/or meeting informally during fieldwork. Informal communication was often on-going with these 33 respondents.
3. Interviews with 34 family members of trafficking victims (including spouses, parents, siblings, children, grandparents, aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews and in-laws) and 31 friends/neighbors of trafficked persons, to discuss how they experienced and coped with the trafficked individual’s absence while trafficked, his/her return home and experiences and challenges during his/her process of recovery and reintegration.
4. Participant observation in the family and community environment, with the research team generally spending two of four weeks each month conducting community-based fieldwork. Interactions included informal conversations and discussions with individuals or groups, direct observation and participation in community events.
5. Interviews with 144 key informants/stakeholders at the national, district, sub-district and village level between October 2013 and April 2016, including representatives of the Indonesian government (32), national and international NGOs (97), international organizations (5), donors/embassies (4) and academics/researchers (6). Twenty-five (25) informants were interviewed more than once. Key informants included administrators, policy-makers, law enforcement, medical personnel, social workers, lawyers and paralegals, village chiefs, teachers/principals, trade unionists and migrant worker activists.
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