Thursday, May 14, 2015

"Looking through the Diamond": Social Dimensions

The final dimension that I have encountered is social. This one is so important, often attempted, but rarely done well. I'm looking forward to exploring this dimension further here, as well as sharing some of the organizations I have encountered that are up to the task of providing restoration services in a social context to survivors of sexual exploitation.

Social Dimensions of Aftercare

Throughout this journey, I have realized what a privilege it is to have been born into a family that protects me and puts my well-being above monetary gain. With a few changes in my life, I could have easily been in the same position of many of these victims. However, my privileged social situation has led me to a life full of education and opportunity.

For the women all over the world that fall prey to sexual exploitation, however, the story is very different. Many of these individuals come from broken homes, where they were raised by alcoholic or desparate parents. Of course, I do not mean to place blame on the parents - this problem is a cycle. Likely, they too are a product of a difficult family life. However, a troubling family past is often the common thread among many stories.

Because of this, there is a huge need for teams to address the social dimension in the restoration process. Survivors need a new family unit. If teams that provide housing for women leaving exploitative situations can focus on this particular dimension, much more success will be seen.

Example from Thailand: Home of New Beginnings

This organization exists right in the middle of one of the biggest bar districts in a major Thai city. Though they have multiple programs within the organization, their offering for women who have left the bars permanently is called the "family approach." Just like a family would, the Home of New Beginnings provides holistic support for the girls who choose to leave a life of prostitution and sexual exploitation.

The team at the Home of New Beginnings understands that these girls have a deep need for a loving family that loves them for who they are - not for what they can make in a night. Being a family means that they provide for all needs, including medical and educational. However, the staff at the home are most focused on providing a social structure around these women that is safe and allows for restoration.

This program also does a phenomenal job of providing for individual needs within the Thai context. Particularly in eastern countries like it, family is incredibly important, so this "family approach" is by far the most effective structure for a team to pursue. If you would like to find out more about the Home of New Beginnings or their other programs, visit their website here.

Other Organizations

Usa Deschisa, Romania: operates as a home for minor victims of sexual exploitation in Romania. Many of these girls were trafficked outside of the country. When rescued, they were repatriated to their home country, but did not have a safe place to go. Usa Deschisa, which means "Open Door" in Romanian, has become a new family and home for these survivors. The director of the home says that she never wanted to open a shelter - she wanted to open a home. The residents cook meals together, go to classes together, and take care of the house together. This is a wonderful place for survivors to recover in a loving, social context. Find out more about the organization here.

Oasis, India: as an organization provides many services for vulnerable women at many various stages: from prevention to intervention to restoration. On the restoration end, the organization has - for over three year now - provided long term housing for dozens of women and girls who have left the red light district in a major Indian city. Currently there are 12 survivors living at the main home – with others residing in transitional homes. Residents can stay anywhere from 9 months to 2 years, depending on the details of their individual case. Though the organization certainly connects survivors with opportunities for education, job training, and legal services, the priority of the team supervising the residential homes is a social one – restoration through community. The residents play, work, eat, and live as a group while learning to live a life outside of the red light district.

Wipe Every Tear, The Philippines: provides a safe home and community for women and girls who have chosen to leave the bar district in a particular city of the Philippines, where there is a high demand for prostitution. Over the last three years, over 50 women and girls have come to the program - and remained out of prostitution. This organization provides the kind of relational support that these survivors need to be able to push through the obstacles to long-term recovery. Wipe Every Tear makes education a priority, paying for the government-provided education of all residents. The homes themselves meet a simple, but profound, need - a need for a loving community away from sexual exploitation. If you would like to find out more about Wipe Every Tear, visit their website.





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