Abstract: The Intervention and Reintegration Experiences of Human Trafficking Survivors and at-Risk Women in West Africa (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

289P The Intervention and Reintegration Experiences of Human Trafficking Survivors and at-Risk Women in West Africa

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Giselle Balfour, PhD, Doctoral Student, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
David Okech, Associate Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Background and Purpose. As knowledge of the causes and consequences of human trafficking continues to grow globally, it has become evident that the needs of survivors and vulnerable women and girls are numerous, and the process of restoration and reintegration can be quite challenging. Hence, there is an emerging and increasing need for evidence-informed assistance programs that help survivors and vulnerable women and girls to alleviate the factors that contributed to their exploitation or risk and avoid victimization/re-victimization.

Consequently, the purpose of this paper was to document the intervention and post-intervention experiences of trafficked and vulnerable women in Ghana to foster a deeper understanding of the factors they identify as most and least beneficial to their restoration.

Methods. This study employed a secondary qualitative analysis of the in-depth, face-to face interviews of 37 Ghanaian women who participated in a 9-month residential program in Agbogbloshie, Ghana. Participants were recruited through non-randomized purposive sampling based on having graduated from the program between 2010 and 2015. Participants were contacted using existing case records as well as through contacts with other NGOs and government agencies. As such, of the 311 women who completed the program in the established time frame, 144 (46%) participated in Phase 1 (2016), 123 returned and completed surveys in Phase 2 (2017), and 37 out of the 123 participated in the qualitative interviews, which were conducted in the summer of 2017. All participants were female, Ghanaian, and over 18 years old at the time of their participation in the study.

Data analyses were conducted using the primarily inductive process associated with thematic analysis. Themes and sub-themes were extracted.

Findings. Data analysis revealed that participants had an overall positive experience in the program as most participants found the program to be beneficial, specifically in assisting them to attain their goals: a) to learn a new skill that would increase their employability, b) to improve their lives, and 3) to negate negative attitudes (stigma). Participants’ post-intervention experiences, however, varied depending primarily on the level of support they received (particularly from family) upon their return to their communities. Surprisingly, several participants reported engaging in entrepreneurial activities using the skills they acquired in the program.

Conclusions and Implications. Findings highlight the importance of incorporating skills training in human trafficking intervention programs, particularly in countries and regions where poverty is one of the main factors contributing to the vulnerability of individuals. It was also evident and post intervention support is critical as the family of survivors often lack the capacity to assist them once they return to the community. Thus, by providing skill training and support, organizations can aid trafficking survivors and at-risk women and girls to mitigate their vulnerability and avoid trafficking and re-trafficking.