There are between 21 million and 45 million people in forced labour or slavery in the world today. We don’t know the exact number because, most of the time, slavery is hidden behind closed doors. What we do know is that the majority of these people live in our own region of Asia Pacific.
About 70 per cent of human trafficking victims are women or girls. Beyond that, one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence. 120 million girls have experienced forced intercourse or other sexual acts and more than 700 million women alive today were married as children.
While these figures are staggering and indicate the scale of the issues Hagar works on, our view is that even one person in slavery, one woman being beaten or one girl being married is one too many.
We support, adhere to and raise awareness of international human rights agreements, and see our work in the context of global efforts to protect rights and promote human development, including the Sustainable Development Goals.
The issues Hagar works on are global issues, yet they impact individuals in isolating and often intimate ways.
Consistent with our values, Hagar Australia’s work is motivated by respect for the rights and dignity of every human being and compassion for those whose rights have been violated.
We respect the right of every individual to freely hold their own beliefs, while being motivated by our own Christian faith in a God who sees, hears and deeply loves those who are so often unseen and unheard in places where they are enslaved or abused.
HAGAR: QUICK FACTS
The Whole Journey
Scroll down to read how a client is supported through the three stages of their recovery with Hagar, from Protection to Transition and Reintegration.
Once a client is referred from local police, customs, partner rescue agencies or partner organisations, they are assigned a case manager who will stay with them for their whole recovery journey. For every client, this journey begins with a fundamental focus on safety and security. It is crucial that each client feels secure in both their home and working environments. Hagar provides services to ensure our client’s immediate and long-term safety, free from neglect and abuse.
“Because I was abused, I was rejected by my family. Because I was exploited, they abandoned me. Because of what happened to me, I was disgraced…I just want to be free.” Aziza, Afghanistan.
In the immediate term, survivors like Aziza are placed in one of Hagar’s Recovery Shelters to enable them to receive urgent healthcare and medical assessment (including STD tests and full immunisations) before moving on to a transitional home or foster care family.
Hagar’s Legal and Protection team ensure each client’s safety through:
- Securing identity cards and birth certificates
- Pursuing legal action
- Testifying in a court case
- Helping clients to understand their rights
Hagar works closely with local governments and partner organisations to ensure the greatest protection for women and children within our care.
It is complicated, time-consuming and sometimes dangerous work. But protection services are a vital part of Hagar’s support for women and children.
Once clients are safe, they can begin to heal. Hagar provides specialist trauma counselling services to restore the mental well-being of all survivors.
Hagar’s dedicated and caring counsellors work one-on-one with clients to develop a trusting therapeutic relationship, using Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (TFCBT), developed for Hagar’s use by John Hopkins University. The program aims to build resilience to cope with future challenges, achieve emotional and psychological health and develop skills to provide for economic independence. Our clients’ families also receive counselling to help them understand the impact of trauma on their child and how that trauma has affected their own lives.
Zarifa’s life was “filled with endless torture and pain: A mentally disabled husband and his abusive family. The murdering of our children.” After coming into Hagar’s care: “Life returned to my body as I learned about Hagar’s Empowering Women for Economic Participation Programme (EWEP).”
For many women and children who have been trafficked or suffered human rights abuse, education and training is a dream. Hagar recognises that a lack of education severely limits their ability to gain employment and a steady income. Therefore, Hagar provides early childhood education to clients as well as formal schooling and scholarships for collegiate and tertiary level education to allow each to reach their full potential. Women receive literacy education as well as vocational skills training, career counselling and on-the-job mentoring, allowing them greater economic independence.
Art therapy, dance, sport, life skills training and other opportunities to develop self-worth, resilience and confidence are also available.
Hagar also facilitates an effective mentoring program for students to participate in creating positive relationships with past Hagar students who have finished secondary school and are undertaking tertiary education. This provides each woman and child with the hope of a brighter future.
Vocational training and hard skills are absolute necessary for those who do not wish to pursue higher education. Hagar provides these experiences through established social enterprises to provide useful skills that can be utilised during employment placements or opportunities. Hagar maintains a social business investment portfolio and collaborates with a wide variety of private sector partners.
“I received training on employability skills like teamwork, problem-solving and self-management and when I was finished I even got a job interview!” Zarifa, Hagar Afghanistan
Reintegration is the ultimate goal for each client who comes within Hagar’s care. Hagar recognises that belonging and contributing to a community is a crucial part of the journey towards restoration and becoming whole.
Hagar assists women and children to successfully integrate into the community of their choice by reconciling or reconnecting with family or instead locating a loving and welcoming foster home.
By working with families, friends, churches and communities, Hagar creates a healthy, safe and supportive environment for women and children to go home and live happily among loved ones.
Before an individual moves into a family and community setting, Hagar social workers and counsellors help prepare relatives and community members to receive the client. Furthermore, Hagar then conducts monthly monitoring visits for at least two years to ensure each woman and child is safe and thriving. Many clients will have steady employment or will be equipped with the skills needed to be hired. This allows clients a sustainable method to support themselves and their families.
“I am happy to see my children play in the house and enjoy life in the community again…My children are able to come back to me and I want to take better care of them than the previous time.” Vanak and Sophy’s mother said when her sons returned home. They had been with Hagar for two years after they were sexually abused by a community member.
The road to reintegration is unique. Hagar ensures that each journey is customised to the needs of each client.
For Vanak and Sophy, Hagar’s case managers and counsellors helped the family by building a house, and settling the boys into school.
“Even though I felt a bit worried about going back to my old school, I think I can do it,” Sophy said. “I’m very happy that I have a bicycle and a new house. I will commit to my studies. I hope I will have a good future and will be able to support my mum.”