PENANG STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING CAMPAIGN
FOR A SLAVE-FREE FUTURE
Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign at a Glance
The Penang Stop Human Traﬃcking Campaign (PSHTC) works holistically: we immediately link the issues of human trafficking to modern day slavery, and to the situations of vulnerability, exploitation and lack of protection. As a result we have been active since 2012 in promoting awareness about human trafficking and its contexts and consequences; engaging in various advocacy initiatives to change policies locally, nationally and regionally; and most of all, to work with those communities who are most vulnerable. In our case, this has resulted in a particularly close relationship with the refugee community in Penang. This work has been consolidated under Aspire Penang: please check out the website here.
Advocacy is a key part of our work, and central to this is the involvement of refugee and migrant communities in leading and designing such advocacy. We also love being part of wider coalitions and collaborations. The photo shows a memorial event on the second anniversary of the 'discovery' of the horrors of the Wang Kelian trafficking camps, jointly organised with MAPIM. These camps remain etched on the lives of thousands of refugee and other migrant women, men and children who passed through them. Many died, many suffered systematic sexual and other violence, most will bear the mental scars for the rest of their lives. Yet till today no Malaysian has been brought to justice.
This is one example of our advocacy, which involves the refugee and migrant communities as well as civil society and government agencies such as Suhakam and MAPO. Check out our advocacy documents here.
Community Initiatives bringing Hope and Change
The Penang Stop Human Trafficking campaign has always been committed to long-term solutions to human trafficking and vulnerability through supporting community-driven projects of hope and change. These are based on our Core Principles which gives emphasis to refugee empowerment. This work is now consolidated under ASPIRE Penang, and includes supporting community leadership and solidarity, community-led documentation, a refugee-run kindergarten, adult and teenage education initiatives, youth empowerment projects and working with a variety of partners. Check this work here. .
Malaysia is heavily dependent on migrant labour, much of which is recruited and supplied by outsourcing companies whose activities are hardly monitored. There are some 4 million undocumented migrant workers, utterly vulnerable to exploitation (modern day slavery) and to being trafficked. Refugees have no right to work, meaning they too remain unprotected and vulnerable to human traffickers and modern day slavers. There is much to be done to transform the situation.
Malaysia like most countries has a sex industry which includes syndicates using women, children and men as forced sex workers. Like many countries, where there is any initiative by the authorities, it is to criminalise these workers rather than to identify survivors of human trafficking and go after the syndicates and the criminals involved. As in most countries, there are publicly acknowledged examples of where the authorities are in league with the syndicates, a major issue that cuts across any efforts to stamp out human trafficking in Malaysia, the region and the world.
Our Core Principles
Our work is based on our Core Principles.
These govern everything we do.
Our fundamental commitment is to the principle of community empowerment and self-determination. So in our work with (for example) the refugee community in Penang, the ultimate goal is for women, youth, children and men from the community to decide for themselves their aspirations, actions and advocacy.
“Nothing about us without us”.
Our Core Principles emphasise our commitment to women’s leadership. They also highlight the need for a transformation in approach by NGOs and others (including funders) to ensure that whatever we do supports empowerment and self-determination of the community, and not the self aggrandisement and enrichment of either individuals or (non-community) NGOs themselves.
Our Core Principles also commit us to fighting xenophobia and racism wherever and however it occurs. And they commit us to fighting for a proper, legal status for every women, man and child wherever they may be, a basic human right and one which would give respect and protection to millions who at the moment have none.
The Core Principles can be downloaded here.