SOUTH EAST ASIA
ZOE recognises that human trafficking has numerous root causes and our approach addresses each in turn. When there is extreme vulnerability, due to lack of development and education, coupled with inadequate response systems, traffickers flourish. ZOE supports anti-trafficking training programs aimed at building awareness and sensitivity among stakeholders and empowering them to act when necessary.
The first step is helping the community to recognise the problem. Our community outreach and public awareness campaigns target the most vulnerable – poor families, rural communities, youth and children. The campaigns help local communities to realise it is important to acknowledge the problem and to work together to prevent the problem from growing.
The next step is to create a vigilant community safety net to continue monitoring the situation long after the initial training has ended. ZOE's work in Southeast Asia is based in Thailand where we support education and practical training programs to assist government agencies, local law enforcement, schools, social service providers, village leaders and local faith-based organisations to identify, prevent and report trafficking. ZOE has built a referral network primarily in the cities and rural areas of Thailand but also in locations in other countries that acts as an early warning system to identify at-risk children and communities.
As ZOE continues to educate people and create awareness of human trafficking and slavery, increased information is gained and more victims are identified. Annually, the ZOE human trafficking awareness program reaches approximately 5,000 individuals per year in Thailand.
In Australia, ZOE raises awareness through the media, entertainment industry, influential voices, speaking engagements, internet communities, and by encouraging university and high school involvement. We strongly believe that awareness of the trafficking problem must be widespread and cooperation and collaboration among anti-trafficking organisations strengthened.
In 2014, ZOE teamed up with accomplished curriculum writer Mark Easton to develop a set of six lesson plans to give teachers the resources they need to teach Year 10 students about child trafficking and the ways in which organisations and individuals are responding.
The lesson plans are based on a case study of a Burmese girl who was forced to work in a begging ring. Students follow her story from her kidnap in Myanmar through her experiences in Thailand and eventual repatriation to her family. This is based on an actual case although some of the details have been changed to protect her identity.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING HOTLINE
ZOE receives over hundreds of calls a year on its human trafficking hotline. ZOE’s Child Rescue (ZCR) department members are Thai citizens who speak a variety of languages (Thai, Karen, Burmese, etc.). When a call comes in on the hotline, a ZCR team member conducts a telephone interview with the caller using a special matrix developed by ZCR to assess whether the situation is truly a child for sale or something else (e.g. domestic dispute, runaway, etc.). If the call is deemed a child in danger of trafficking, a rescue team is immediately assembled and sent to the child’s location. ZOE employs a number of strategies to remove children from harm’s way in these situations. However, we will never pay money to rescue a child. To do so would only perpetuate the human trafficking industry and reward the human traffickers. In cases where it is discovered that a family is struggling to feed the children because of poverty or a poor harvest and are looking for ways to put food on the table, we are able to provide food staples, such as rice, cooking oil and canned meat or fish through our Mercy Network partnership with the Children’s Hunger Fund. Any time a child is rescued from an imminent sale into human trafficking and taken to ZOE Children’s Homes, we go through all necessary legal processes to gain protective guardianship.