New NEXUS Study: Our Lives. Vulnerability and Resilience Among Indonesian Trafficking Victims (May 2017)

May 2017 – NEXUS Institute is pleased to join the Indonesian Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (MoWECP) and the Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA) in announcing the publication of Our Lives. Vulnerability and Resilience Among Indonesian Trafficking Victims (also available in Bahasa Indonesian) authored by Rebecca Surtees, NEXUS Senior Researcher.

When trafficked persons escape their exploitation, it is often only the beginning of a complex and taxing process of recovery and reintegration. Trafficked persons must recover from the very serious and debilitating effects of trafficking exploitation. They often have a range of short- and long-term assistance needs, which are directly related to and often caused by their trafficking experiences, including issues related to housing and accommodation, physical and mental health, their economic situations, education and training, safety and security, legal status, legal issues and needs within the family. In addition, human trafficking is often a function of broader, structural inequality and individual vulnerability. This means that trafficked persons must also navigate and tackle underlying and pre-existing vulnerabilities that contributed to being trafficked and which also have the potential to undermine reintegration. This paper discusses what Indonesian trafficked persons have identified as their issues, vulnerabilities and resiliencies at different stages of their lives – before trafficking, as a consequence of trafficking exploitation and over the course of their recovery and reintegration. The paper also explores how vulnerability and resilience are influenced by external factors like the family and community setting into which trafficked persons seek to reintegrate and how vulnerability and resilience may fluctuate and change over time.

This seminal study, the second in a series of three research studies by the NEXUS Institute on the reintegration of trafficking victims in Indonesia, was undertaken in the framework of a multi-year research project supported by the United States Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. This research series examines the uncertain and precarious path toward recovery and reintegration faced by many victims of human trafficking in Indonesia, detailing the lives and experiences of 108 Indonesian trafficking victims before, during and after trafficking.

NEXUS conducted interviews over two years with more than 100 trafficking victims (both those who had been formally identified and those who remain unidentified) as well as with their family and community members. This report explores the issues faced and assistance needs articulated in the following key areas:

The reintegration of trafficked persons is a profoundly complex process and can be both facilitated and complicated by individual, family, social and economic factors, as well as the quality of reintegration programs and policies and the skills of the professionals tasked with the work. Improving the reintegration response in Indonesia requires efforts from a number of different organizations and institutions including the government (at all levels), civil society, international organizations and donors. This report offers recommendations to contribute to an improved assistance and reintegration response for trafficked persons in Indonesia.

Photograph by Peter Biro for NEXUS Institute: A village scene in West Java, Indonesia. All rights reserved.