The needs of women escaping trafficking vary depending on the form of exploitation they have experienced and the context in which the abuse took place (i.e. within their country of origin or across national borders). Trafficked women seeking shelter may have been abused within their own community, in a transit country or other destination, which affect the assistance that they may have access to (e.g. legal protection, housing assistance, etc.) and the decisions they must make when seeking support (e.g. return to their previous home or stay in their current country or community).
Various factors affecting trafficked women demonstrate their need for specific accommodation and support, including:
These circumstances reinforce the importance of establishing specialized shelters and services for trafficking survivors, which should have the capacity to support:
Shelters may contribute to each of these areas of assistance through the provision of direct support or advocacy within other systems and agencies for responses and protocols that protect women and girls.
Considerations in the development of specialized shelter facilities or services for trafficking survivors include:
Example: The Dutch Foundation against Trafficking, known as the Coordination Centre Human Trafficking (COMENSHA), is one of nine member organizations of La Strada, an international network that aims to prevent trafficking in human beings, with a particular focus on women in Central and Eastern Europe. COMENSHA functions as a national reporting and registration point for trafficked persons. Once a person returns to his or her country of origin, COMENSHA coordinates return and reintegration steps in that country through La Strada or other local organizations to ensure the provision of shelter for returned victims and of support towards their reintegration. COMENSHA also supports clients who do not want to return to their country of origin.
Excerpt from UNODC. 2008. Toolkit to Combat Trafficking in Persons. UNODC. Vienna.
Code of Conduct for Establishing a Confidential Shelter (Serbia and Montenegro)
The purpose of the shelter is to create a safe space for trafficked women, including:
2. Target groups
Target groups for the shelter are:
The shelter should be guarded 24 hours a day. Furthermore, quick reaction capacities for emergency situations, flexibility of service, confidentiality, and escort of women and staff for routine medical visits or recreational outings must be in place.
The address of the premises should be confidential. Implementing partners are not entitled to pass on the address, including to the press.
4. Entry to the shelter
If they voluntarily accept to access the shelter, trafficked women are referred to the shelter by the Mobile Team of the National Referral Mechanism.
Each woman must be apprised of, and accept, the rules for living in the shelter.
Violations of the rules lead to immediate exclusion from the shelter.
The rules of the shelter include cleaning and cooking duties, agreement on regulations for entering and leaving the premises, and restriction in telephone communications.
Even though a large number of women staying in the shelter might want to return to their countries of origin, this is not a precondition for acceptance to the shelter.
The legal framework for staying in the shelter is defined in the letter of intent and on the basis of Yugoslav and Serbian legal provisions for foreigners.
A consultation board consisting of the members of the Mobile Team and the OSCE Mission to Serbia and Montenegro (formerly, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) will monitor the implementation of the shelter and its ongoing activities.
i. Memorandum of understanding
A memorandum of understanding between the implementation partners (IOM and Counselling Against Family Violence) will be signed.
ii. Letter of intent
A letter of intent should be signed between the implementation partners and the republican and federal Ministries of Interior, which may contain agreements on the following issues:
iii. Management of the shelter
Counseling Against Family Violence is responsible for managing the shelter.
During the stay in the shelter, the following services are offered to the women:
All of the above-mentioned services are offered on a voluntary basis and are not mandatory.
v. Concurrent activities
Concurrent activities and services are be provided in the shelter such as:
Source: Developed in Serbia by the multidisciplinary team under the guidance of the OSCE mission (2001). Op.cit.,Note 45, Anti-Trafficking Activities of the Yugoslav Team. (Excerpt: OSCE/ODIHR. 2004. National Referral Mechanisms - Joining Efforts to Protect the Rights of Trafficked Persons: A Practical Handbook).
Example: The POPPY Project (United Kingdom)
The POPPY Project in the United Kingdom provides accommodation in a 40-bed facility for women over the age of 18 who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation or domestic slavery. Women receive assistance from a senior support worker and a range of specialist services including:
In order to provide safety for women when accommodation at the project is full, POPPY works with community partnerships to access alternative safe accommodation and solutions including:
Source: Eaves. Accommodation and Support POPPY Project.
Psychosocial Care for Women in Shelter Homes (UNODC, 2011). This manual is a resource for developing capacity of staff working in shelters for trafficked women, based on the context in India. The manual highlights the specific needs of women in institutions, enables caregivers to understand these needs and gives them an insight into the spectrum of psychosocial interventions. It aims to strengthen service provider understanding of the various laws and policies that are available to safeguard the rights of women in India with an additional focus on the importance of staff care and stress management as well. Available in English.
Victim Translation Assistance Tool - Life support messages for victims of human trafficking (UNODC, 2010). This tool is a unique resource for service providers to assist basic assistance to victims of human trafficking. Developed in collaboration with survivors of trafficking and survivor support experts, the tool uses audio messages with key encounter messages to facilitate the identification of and communication with a trafficked person and the launch of a criminal investigation. The tool contains 35 recorded basic questions and messages, which are translated into 40 languages, tailored for the gender of survivors and include special questions for children. Available in English.
Manual for Work on SOS Hotline for (Potential) Victims of Human Trafficking (ASTRA – Anti Trafficking Action, 2010). This manual is for programme managers and organizations establishing or supporting a hotline for violence survivors or those at-risk of violence. Based on the experience of the anti-trafficking hotline established by ASTRA in 2002 in the Republic of Serbia, the guide provides: a brief introduction to the issue of trafficking; guidance on establishing, managing and running a hotline for potential trafficking survivors; identifies its potential linkages to other programs; its role in the referral system; and includes forms and additional reference material as annexes. Available in English.
A Guide for Mothers, Grandmothers, and Others for Helping a Girl Caught in Prostitution or Sex Trafficking (Women's Justice Center). This guide is for female relatives of girls and young women at-risk or engaged in prostitution or sex trafficking. It provides step-by-step guidance on responding to warning signs, filing a police report, and handling a daughter's arrest or death due to prostitution or sex trafficking. It includes information and links to online resources, and features six true stories from North and Central America. Available in English and Spanish.
Toolkit to Combat Trafficking in Persons (UNODC, 2008). This resource is for policymakers, law enforcement and justice actors, as well as service providers and civil society actors addressing trafficking. The toolkit provides guidance on relevant legislative and practices, recommendations on training materials and other programming resources for government and non-government actors as well as includes promising practices of anti-trafficking interventions from around the world. Available in English.
Guide to Ethics and Human Rights in Counter-trafficking: Ethical Standards for Counter-Trafficking Research and Programming (UNIAP, 2008). This guide is for practitioners and programmers implementing counter-trafficking programmes. The Guide provides seven guiding principles for counter-trafficking programmes to consider and follow, including illustrative programme examples from Asia and annexes with sample consent forms and checklists for conducting research and programming. Available in English.
Combating Human Trafficking in the Americas: A Guide to International Advocacy (Global Rights, 2007). This guide is a resource for civil society organizations seeking to promote the rights of trafficked persons and advocating for human rights at the international or regional level; working on migrant, women or children's rights; or providing training on human rights. The guide provides information on the international and regional legal frameworks, institutions and mechanisms relevant for anti-trafficking advocates based in the Americas, including opportunities for NGO advocacy and contributions and annexes with contact information, references and websites. Available in English.
WHO Ethical and safety recommendations for interviewing trafficked women (Cathy Zimmerman and Charlotte Watts for the World Health Organization, 2003). This report is a resource for researchers, media, and service providers with limited experience working with trafficked women. The recommendations should be used together with existing standards and include ten basic standards for interviewing women who are in or have left a trafficking situation with an explanation provided for each standard and suggestions for their implementation. Available in Armenian, Bosnian, Croatian, English, Japanese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish and Serbian.
The IOM Handbook on Direct Assistance for Victims of Trafficking (IOM International Organization for Migration, 2007). This resource provides detailed guidance on establishing and managing shelters for victims of trafficking. Available in English.
Guidelines for the Operation of Care Facilities for Victims of Trafficking and Violence against Women and Girls. Rationale, Basic Procedures and Requirements for Capacity Building (Planete Enfants, 2005).Available in English.
National Referral Mechanisms - Joining Efforts to Protect the Rights of Trafficked Persons: A Practical Handbook (OSCE/ODIHR, 2004). This resource provides guidance for operating shelters for survivors of trafficking, including samples templates such as a Code of Conduct for maintaining the confidentiality of a shelter and checklists for programming, based on the context across countries in North America and Europe. Available in Albanian, English, French, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, and Uzbek.
Minimum Standards of Care and Support for the Victims of Trafficking and Other Forms of Violence in South Asia (South Asia Regional Initiative/Equity Support Program). Available in English.
South Asian Resource Book on Livelihood Options for Survivors of Trafficking and Other Forms of Violence (South Asia Regional Initiative/ Equity Support Program). Available in English.
See additional tools on Trafficking from the Virtual Knowledge Centre Tools Database.