Reflections of 2021 from the SIHMA Johannesburg Legal Clinic Administrator and Legal Advisor
I joined the SIHMA Johannesburg Legal Office in August 2021 and my experience thus far has been very-eye-opening. From the setting up of the offices to running the trainings, it has been rewarding to see the two Johannesburg offices come to life. With a background in development, being exposed to the concept of human trafficking, which underpins our office, has given me a more detailed idea about human trafficking. The online trainings have been very enlightening in giving me an understanding of the traumatic experiences victims go through, the signs of human trafficking to look out for, the legislative aspect through the Standard Operating Procedures which can be utilised more to protect and represent victims of TIPs, the different network organisations which the Johannesburg Legal Clinic is partnering with to tackle human trafficking. For an office which hopes to run a study center next year, the lessons and experiences thus far will be the bedrock of the crucial research focus.
I have also been exposed to the intricacies of running an in-person training programme successfully, where social workers from Cathca and JRS were trained on human trafficking and we learnt the importance of equipping the people most likely to came across trafficking cases with enough information to assist them in the identification and handling of the victims in the appropriate manner and dignity each victim deserves. The training itself gave us an insight into the challenges social workers are faced with when dealing with human trafficking cases and in the discussions allowed us to understand the perspectives of the social workers. The feedback from the social workers was very positive, who submitted that they gained priceless knowledge which would assist to be more equipped to identify and help victims, they also connected with other social workers from different area, which would assist them in referring and working together on cases.
As we rounded off the year with the 16days-of-activism-against-gender-based-violence, we had the opportunity to impact young people from the Catechism classes with activities based on GBV campaign and human trafficking. Because initiatives from the government, civil society and the community in general seem to be utilising reactionary mechanisms to deal with GVB and less emphasis is given to the future victims or perpetrators of GBV who are children, we thus focused the activities on equipping young people who are silent observers of the violence around them with issues of respect, love and gender equality. Additionally, they were introduced to human trafficking and we found that although they had an understanding of GBV ns human trafficking, the activities got them talking and they later commented on how they were impacted and how they had gained more knowledge from the campaign activities which they would share and utilise in their own communities.
We would like to be more involved with the communities, be active in schools and communities to educate and join the fight against human trafficking.
We would also like to work with network organisations more in dealing with the legal side of human trafficking and handling or collaborate in existing cases.
As the study centre center will be set up in 2022, we would like to be involved more with the research aspect of human trafficking.
by the SIHMA Johannesburg Legal Clinic: Administrator
REFLECTIONS AND VISIONS
I have always been passionate about human trafficking. It has always been my goal and dream to use my legal background to contribute to the fight against human trafficking. Joining the SIHMA Legal Clinic in September 2021 was the start of my contribution to making a difference in the lives of human trafficking victims and survivors.
The Legal Clinic was recently opened in October 2021 and has already undertaken to making a difference in people’s lives. We have already offered training on human trafficking to healthcare workers and social workers so that they can identify victims of human trafficking, as they are most likely to come across a victim due to the health consequences that victims deal with from the abuse. We also took the opportunity to train children in grades 8 to 11 on human trafficking during the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence as human trafficking is also considered a gender-based violent crime. Apart from offering trainings, the SIHMA Legal Clinic also offers legal services to trafficking survivors. We were able to successfully legally assist a client who was so happy and satisfied. The matter was finalized as soon as possible.
From both the abovementioned training, the audiences were very interactive, eager to learn and asked questions. This has encouraged me and the team to keep doing what we do and train even more people in the following year of 2022. I would like to see us training more key role payers in counter human trafficking such as police, government departments and also training other organizations and the civil society. Also, having successfully offered legal services to human trafficking survivors this year has encouraged me to do more in the following year. I now look forward to continuing with assisting more human trafficking survivors with their legal needs and making a difference in their lives. Furthermore, I intend to engage more with other counter-human trafficking organizations and form partnerships, make submissions to reports on human trafficking relating to South Africa, publish information on human trafficking in South Africa, attend conferences on human trafficking and many more. I look forward to 2022 and making an impact in the field of counter-human trafficking through the SIHMA Legal Clinic!
by the SIHMA Johannesburg Legal Clinic: Legal Advisor