How we work
AAT works to eliminate sexual exploitation through various different programs, aimed to cover the whole process of suppressing trafficking and sexual exploitation/abuse and to provide support to victims. Although AAT’s work focuses mostly on cases of trafficking in the form of forced prostitution, we also handle and provide support in other kinds of complex cases of commercial sexual exploitation (for example commercial surrogacy) and other kinds of sexual abuse (for example rape, or sexual abuse in a situation of labor trafficking).
AAT works using a regional approach, which means that we don’t limit our work to a certain geographic area but work wherever necessary. Our experience has shown that a transnational crime such as trafficking can’t be fought when limiting yourself to certain areas, and our staff must be ready to cross borders in their work in situations where it is not possible of efficient to cooperate with a partner who has strong presence in the geographical area concerned.
Our programs include:
Prevention / Empowerment: Actions and strategies to prevent trafficking and sexual abuse from happening, or preventing former victims from being re-trafficked; and to provide women and girls who have returned home or who are at high risk for being trafficked with increased opportunities to generating income and making independent choices.
The aim of the AAT Reg. Thai prevention program is to keep women and minors safe from sexual exploitation and trafficking and to help victims leave prostitution. Our prevention and empowerment programs work independently, but as the aim of the empowerment program is to create conditions where women and minors are protected from re-trafficking and participate in the protection of others, many activities overlap. Activities include:
Setting up systems in communities at risk to prevent vulnerable women and minors from being trafficked and to be able to protect themselves, as well as “watchdog” mechanisms where communities gather information on missing persons or persons who could possibly be victims of trafficking and inform AAT or the authorities for investigation and protection. The role of the community networks and watchdogs is to inform women and children in communities at risk of the dangers of trafficking and of ways to protect themselves. They coordinate with the multi-disciplinary team for protection interventions. These groups are established on both sides of the borders. AAT Reg. Thai also develops leadership programs with youth from both sides of the border for their participation in the prevention and protection of others.
Detecting missing persons and potential victims for protection on their transit stage before reaching their final destination. For example at the Thai border in Vangtao, Laos, where AAT runs its Coordination Center together with Lao authorities, immigration officials have detected trafficking cases and referred the victims to the Coordination Center before they crossed the border, hence stopping their trafficking process before they were sexually exploited.
Disseminating information on trafficking and self protection in high-risk areas. The program targets women and minors in general, but especially in communities at risk such as cross-border areas, most vulnerable groups such as stateless persons, or former victims as well as those women and girls who are already involved in prostitution. AAT Reg. Thai implements prevention campaigns in communities at risk especially during festivals or events between the two borders (such as the long tail boat racing in the Mekong River between Laos and Thailand). These periods are strategic times for campaigns because they also mark peaks in trafficking because of the high amount of border crossings, as well as attract a large amount of people and hence enable a broad dissemination of information. Campaigns allow us to inform people along both sides of the border of the risk of trafficking, on how to protect oneself, on how to migrate safely (including legal procedures for migration and permits), and to provide contacts to relevant organizations for protection. AAT Reg. Thai also engages in regular campaigns at border customs with the immigration and customs police and conduct activities in border provinces and entertainment paces to encourage the most vulnerable groups women and victims of sexual exploitation to alternatives other than prostitution.
Economic and social empowerment. After repatriation, AAT continues its work with the women and girls in their own community to help them build a future according to their own needs and choices. They are given access to women’s networks, including other former victims, established in communities to work in trafficking prevention and other issues relevant to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. We also organize different activities with national partners to provide the women and girls with tools for planning their future and for claiming their rights. Together with national counterparts we also ensure access to housing and medical or psychosocial services according to each person’s individual needs.
Our staff studies the possibility of the areas where the women and girls will return or establish and helps them to gain access to education and employment or to develop their own business. In some locations, AAT run centers that provide training in some of the most popular occupations. Our aim is to increase access to more and a larger variety of sustainable livelihood options, taking into account both viability and market demand.
Economic and social empowerment not only diminishes the former victims’ risks of being re-trafficked, but we also encourage the women and girls we work with to join our community-based prevention actions to provide peer support and to inform other women and girls about how to prevent trafficking and protect themselves and each other. We do long term work with the women and girls we work with and follow up with them regularly.
Protection: Investigating potential cases of trafficking / sexual exploitation, rescuing victims from situations of exploitation and identifying victims among detained immigrants. Transferring victims to appropriate safe places.
The AAT Reg. Thai Protection Program concentrates on investigating potential cases of trafficking / sexual exploitation, rescuing victims from situations of exploitation and transferring them to appropriate safe places.
When AAT Reg. Thai receives information on potential victims, we do fact finding and investigation in the place of concern and prepare actions with the relevant authorities. After the rescue operation / intervention, victims are transferred to protection shelters. We then collaborate with authorities to properly and officially identify victims of trafficking and work with the victims to collect evidence. Victims immediately receive assistance through our Assistance Program.
In order to generate sustainable results, we participate in the development of techniques to find and protect victims with law enforcement agencies and other relevant institutions, as well as in the development of mechanisms to strengthen the victim identification process. We also advocate for the protection of cross-border victims and support embassies in the protection of their citizens.
Assistance: Social and legal assistance to victims after rescue or identification from a situation of exploitation, until their return home. The aim of the Assistance Program is to provide access to the necessary emergency services, guarantee compliance with the victim’s rights and prepare her for a safe and successful return.
After their rescue or identification as a victim of trafficking, the women and girls we work with are usually brought to a shelter (in Thailand, shelters are run by the government) and provided with medical, psychological and social services according to the victim’s needs. AAT’s social workers work with the victims in the shelters, aiming to build up self-esteem, secure access to services and map each victim’s situation and conditions before repatriation, as well as support victims with both psychological and practical issues in preparation for their return home. AAT also supports victims with all legal issues they face, including the legal process against the perpetrator.
Actions in protection centers to prepare victims for return include:
Legal assistance: We train all women and girls we work with for legal procedures. We then support them throughout the legal process until they are paid compensatory damages.
Social assistance: Our social workers regularly visit the victims we work with in the shelter to provide them with counseling and psychological support, links with their families and activities designed to build self-esteem, prepare for repatriation and deal with trauma.
Medical care: AAT ensure victims’ access to medical and psychological support according to each victim’s needs.
Empowerment: We provide job orientation to victims in order to develop their career skills and possibilities based on the needs of their communities. AAT has a special authorization from the government of Thailand to bring victims out of the government shelters for field visits to explore career possibilities and for empowerment activities aimed to build economic and social capacity and develop leadership skills to undertake prevention and protection actions when they are back in their communities. AAT also advocated for a policy that enables victims to work or study outside the government shelter, which was granted by the Thai government in 2012. We also support teachers with knowledge of the victim’s language while in the center.
Preparation for repatriation: We interview victims and coordinate with relevant agencies to trace their family and to get the appropriate legal documents for their return, and prepare them for return for example by thoroughly explaining the repatriation process.
The Assistance Program also covers actions in Immigration Detention Centers, where victims of trafficking are often detained as illegal immigrants instead of being identified as victims of trafficking. AAT helps identify victims of trafficking among detainees and coordinate with relevant authorities to transfer them to appropriate shelters for further care and repatriation. AAT also provides necessary support to women and children detainees including coordination with families, embassies, immigration, medical assistance, baby care services, baby delivery, legal documents and birth registration, food, clothes, bags and other necessary support.Return: Planning and organizing the victims’ return home after their time in a shelter, including a mapping of family and economic conditions to ensure a safe return.
AAT’s Return Program aims to make the repatriation process safe and convenient for returning women and children. We support both countries of origin and destination in the preparation, coordination and reception of victims. We aim to speed up processes, ensure confidentiality and respectful treatment of victims and prevent the re-trafficking of victims at their arrival.
AAT staff coordinates with relevant agencies to organize victims’ reception and transportation until their final location, taking into account individual needs. AAT also provides safe transportation home for deported women and children at key Thai border
areas in order to prevent them from being trafficked back to Thailand on their way home, or from falling into debt-bondage due to transportation home which makes them vulnerable for unsafe migration and trafficking.
We follow up with the victims by phone or visit when they have reached home and in difficult or risky cases we organize the return process ourselves and our staff accompanies the victim for the whole trip. We also prepare families and communities for reintegration to create a good and protective environment for a woman’s or child’s return.Regional Coordination: We use the experience we have gained in the field to contribute to regional processes, where authorities aim to design appropriate systems and legislation to suppress trafficking and guarantee an efficient prevention, protection, repatriation, and reintegration of women and children.
AAT Reg. Thai participates in the development of mechanisms at the regional and national levels. We work with both governmental and non-governmental agencies in order to develop more efficient systems to prevent trafficking and to protect, repatriate, and reintegrate women and children.
We participate or have participated in for example the following processes:
Improving the victim identification system of Thailand.
Process with Malaysia and origin countries to develop the protection of foreign victims of trafficking in Malaysia and their repatriation directly to their country instead of deporting them at the Thai-Malaysian border.
Advocacy for the repatriation of Cambodian victims of Vietnamese origin to Cambodia.
Improving the protection of foreign victims of trafficking in Singapore.
Developing a regional case referral system for better protection, repatriation and more choices for reintegration together with governmental and non-governmental agencies and groups from both origin, transit and destination countries.
- Collaboration with international agencies to find Southeast Asian victims and to assist in the protection and repatriation process.
Help us protect and provide new opportunities to women and girls in South East Asia