VOICES programme researches human trafficking
In the second in a series of profiles, we meet with Wat Ho Meas, who is carrying out research on behalf of the CFNI’s VOICES programme.
Having studied in his native Cambodia, Ho went on to achieve his PhD in Economics at Hokkaido University in Japan and is currently studying Divinity at the Irish Baptist College.
He has worked extensively in academia but has recently turned his attention to working in the Community and Voluntary sector, working with organisations such as Barnardos.
Ho, who is currently living in Belfast, is carrying out research into human trafficking and, in particular, the after care services available for those who are victims.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others, existing when a person is recruited, held, coerced and transported across the world. This slavery can take many forms ranging from forced labour in sweatshops, sexual exploitation and forced prostitution, forced domestic servitude, organ trafficking and forced combat, in particular the use of child soldiers.
The most common kind of human trafficking in the UK is forced labour while sex trafficking seems to be common in Northern Ireland.
Since April 2011, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has identified 27 potential victims of human trafficking in Northern Ireland from a number of countries including China, Slovakia and Ghana.
There have been high-profile campaigns by organisations such as Amnesty International and No More Traffik but these campaigns have focussed on raising the visibility of the issue as well as highlighting problems in current legislation in dealing with the perpetrators of these crimes as well as the legal classification of those who are rescued.
Very little research or campaigning has been carried out in the area of after care for the victims, both male and female.
Against this backdrop, Ho chose to carry out research alongside the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, Women’s Aid, Evangelical Alliance, Internal Justice Mission and other relevant organisations such as Amnesty.
Looking specifically at the after care services available to the victims of Human Trafficking in Northern Ireland, Ho said he chose this topic because he “was surprised to learn that Human Trafficking has become a big issue in Northern Ireland”.
Adding: “I had heard a lot about the anti Human Trafficking campaign but there had been very little information about how the victims have been cared for and what needed to be done in order to effectively care for them and help them reintegrate back into society after being rescued.
“I hope that this policy brief paper will be helpful for the public to know about the aftercare service for the rescued victims, and for policy makers to provide an ongoing and targeted awareness campaign to raise public awareness of human trafficking and prevent such crime happening.
“I hope that this research could lead me to be involved in an ongoing and perhaps expanded research project on human trafficking”.
Ho’s research will be completed in late August 2012 and will be published, along with all the other research papers on the CFNI website.
For further information on the VOICES programme, please click here.