By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times Communities
RICHMOND, VA, January 30, 2013 – Several advocates have emailed me recently asking for advice on how service providers can best serve foreign-born victims who were trafficked within the United States. This is a great question, I thought. As a domestic-born survivor of child sex trafficking within the U.S., I recently wrote an article offering advice to service providers working with domestic children who endured similar exploitation. In order to approach this particular question, though, I thought it best to hear directly from foreign-born survivors themselves.
I’m pleased to present advice from two empowered survivor activists: Ima Matul and Shandra Woworuntu.
Ima Matul, Survivor Coordinator for the National Survivor Network, was lured from her home in Indonesia to work in America as a nanny. Upon arrival, however, Ima was separated from her cousin and forced into domestic servitude for several years. Ima offered the following advice to service providers working with foreigners:
• Shelter is always first priority, but it has to be a shelter specific for victims of human trafficking, not for victims of domestic violence or homelessness. “My experience was in [a domestic violence] shelter,” Ima explained, “And it was hard for me to relate with the other residents.”
• Offer shelter services to male victims as well as female.
• Inform victims about their rights within this country.
• Offer education to victims, including English as a Second Language (ESL), General Educational Development (GED) classes, and computer skills.