On Tuesday, 12th March, Arise brought two of our frontline network partners to address an event co-hosted by the Holy See Mission to the United Nations and Arise. It was part of the 63rd Commission of the Status of Women, which this year is focusing on social protection, public services and infrastructure. Our two partners, Sabjola Bregu and Sr. Sherly FMM spoke to a packed room which included representatives from NGOs, governments and international organisations. They joined Arise’s director, Luke de Pulford, Kevin Hyland, former UK Anti-slavery Commissioner, and Dr. Ludy Green, USAID Counter-trafficking Agency Lead.

Arise believes that frontline organisation’s experience and voice are not heard enough at on the international or policy stage. They are the people with the most experience of the issues, and their voices and solutions need to be placed more centrally in our discussions in the international arenas. With this in mind, we were grateful to the Holy See for extending their invite to bring frontline workers to the United Nations.

Sabjola Bregu, a psychologist from Albania, spoke about the importance of healthcare in efforts to end trafficking and exploitation. She challenged the NGO community and governments to widen their understanding of anti-trafficking work to include healthcare professionals, especially those in mental health support. Highlighting their unique positions within society she argued that they were extremely powerful tools in preventing people suffering, but that as of yet their position had not been harnessed. Sabjola also spoke of her experience that many who suffer have underlying mental health issues that, if caught earlier, would reduce their vulnerabilities. Click below to hear her speech in full. 

Sr. Sherly, from the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, spoke from her wealth of experience on the frontlines in Libya and India. She spoke about her passionate belief that access to education is a key social protection still evading the most vulnerable. Highlighting that even basic education is evading many in India, and worldwide, she especially spoke about the need to educate women and girls and that the rural areas can no longer be ignored. Access to education not only protects children, but increases their resilience against slavery throughout their lives. Click below to hear her speech in full. 

Arise’s director, Luke de Pulford, also spoke more widely on the problems that the lack of social protections lead to globally. He highlighted the massive societal vulnerabilities that come from limited social protections. It is these weakness, he argued, that allow traffickers to more easily prey on, and exploit, those most marginalised. Without strong social protections, societies will continue to lose the battle to end exploitation. Click below to hear his speech in full. 

Kevin Hyland spoke on the legal obstacles that victims of trafficking face when accessing services, as well offering recommendations on how to fix it. Dr Green addressed the importance of access to viable work options as a method of increasing resilience against trafficking. Click here to listen to the event in full.