TAF and CEPA study support for trafficked persons | Sunday Observer

TAF and CEPA study support for trafficked persons

23 January, 2022

The Asia Foundation (TAF) and the Center for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) publicly shared the findings from the study on “Optimising 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 recently on the theme ‘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. 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) made presentations.

The national convening was attended by a diverse audience with representatives from NGOs, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Development Organisations, academics and other parties and stakeholders with interest in this field.

Chandima Arambepola commenced proceedings by introducing the study background, methodology, the existing policy framework and the National Plan of Action to Address Gender-based Violence (GBV), conceptualising Trafficking in Persons (TIP) as a form of GBV.

Ms. Arambepola 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.

Dr. Ramani Jayasundere outlined 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 explained 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.

Prof. Camena Gunaratne concluded the panel discussion by outlining 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.

He outlined 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.