Home News & Stories Helping survivors of human trafficking and sexual violence

Helping survivors of human trafficking and sexual violence

20 Jul

Whenever people are displaced due to war or crisis, they become more vulnerable to human trafficking and sexual violence. Being aware of this risk, we believe it is important to prepare our teams to be ready to help. How can we identify victims and survivors? And in what ways can we offer them help?

Last week our medical team in Kraków (Poland) received a training on this topic from A21, an international organization that works to raise awareness about human trafficking and offers help to survivors. Our field coordinator Tuva explains the necessity and importance of knowledge on this topic.


“In crisis situations, people become extra vulnerable. Many are displaced, lose their homes, livelihoods and social networks. Here in Kraków there are a lot of Ukrainian people who have crossed the border unregistered. No one knows how many people are involved or where they’re staying.

We may also encounter survivors of sexual violence or human trafficking in our medical clinic. It is important that we, as a team, are aware of this and deal with it adequately. After all, we are in the unique position where we might be able to help people break out of their situation.”

Offering help

To offer help, we first need to be able to identify the survivors. “This can be quite a challenge”, Tuva explains. “Our doctors don’t always have a lot of time with patients. Often they come to us with other complaints. People might feel ashamed to talk about their vulnerable situation. As a doctor it’s not helpful to ask too direct questions. Instead, we can use small talk to make people feel more comfortable. If a red flag goes up, we can give them further information about available help. We can also refer them to organizations such as A21, (women’s) shelters or the police.”

Valuable role

In engaging in these conversations, our interpreters play an important role. They have attended the training, too. Tuva: “The training was interesting and educational for our whole team: both medics and interpreters. It is very important to learn to identify survivors quickly and to refer them to organisations that can support them. Together we can play a valuable role in this.”

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