How not to become a survivor of exploitation in a foreign country - Labirint

How not to become a survivor of exploitation in a foreign country

People who have to leave their homes during wars and humanitarian catastrophes may face the risks of assault, robbery, sexual exploitation and other forms of human trafficking. Women and children in particular can face these dangers. No one manual or set of rules can guarantee your safety, anyone can find themselves in a dangerous situation. But there are safety measures that you can undertake to lower the risks.

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01. Do not stay alone with strangers

Perpetrators may impersonate volunteers or government officials. Even if someone tells you they are a police officer or a volunteer organization representative, remain vigilant. Only meet with them in a public space. Tell your friends, relatives or someone else you trust about your plans and location in advance. If you have a smartphone, you can broadcast your location to them.

02. Get the details

If someone tells you they are a police officer or a volunteer, ask to see their documents. Take a picture of their documents or take down their personal information. Do not hesitate or be scared to do so. If the person has nothing to hide and actually wants to help you, they will not refuse.

03. Verify all the information

If someone tells you they work for a certain organization, find its website, call their verified number and ask to confirm that this person represents them.

04. Trust yourself

If someone seems suspicious to you and insists on helping, do not accept — politely thank them and try to leave under any pretext.

05. Do not hand over any of your belongings

Always keep your documents and your phone on your person. If someone asks to see your documents, show them without handing them over and hold onto them firmly. If someone introduces themselves as a volunteer and says they need any of your documents to get you a ticket, a visa or another document, do not hand them over.

If you are talking to a police or customs officer, they have a right to ask to see your documents. Make sure that this person is who they say they are. Take a look at their documents, take down their identifying information. If they take your ID, stay near them. Offer to show your documents without handing them over. If they ask for your ID to draw up any documents, offer to give them a copy instead.

06. Protect data on your phone

If a stranger asks you to unlock and show them your phone, do not consent. Protect your phone in advance with a password so that a stranger can’t unlock it.

Someone may check the contents of your phone at customs, customs officers have a right to do that. It is best to transfer any data you want to protect to the cloud.

07. Verify drivers and landlords

If you arrange for someone you don’t know well to drive or accompany you somewhere, or host you in their home, make sure they send you scans or photographs of their documents in advance, as well as their contact information.

Pass all this information to your relatives, friends or any trusted persons who are willing to help you in case of danger.

Tell them where you are going and how they can contact you. The more people are informed about your plans, the better. If you have a smartphone, share your live location with them.

08. Ask for support in advance

If you are going somewhere or staying with a person you don’t know well, arrange to get in touch with your friends or someone you trust at a certain time. Come up with a code word or phrase that you will say if you need help. Memorize your phone number and the number of the person you need to get in touch with.

Agree on what your trusted person should do in case you don’t call at the agreed upon time. For instance, they can call you themselves, contact the volunteers you trust or call the police.

09. Memorize emergency phone numbers

Find out how to promptly contact the police in the country where you are. Memorize the number. Call it if you are in danger.

On iOS and Android smartphones there is an emergency call feature that can help you to promptly get in touch with people you trust. Here is how to set it up.

On iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings. Select Emergency SOS.
  2. Click the button Edit Emergency Contacts.
  3. In the section Emergency Contacts specify one or several contacts of relatives or trusted persons who should be notified of the emergency.

On Android:

  1. Go to Settings. Select Users and Accounts (in some Android versions – simply Users).
  2. Select Emergency Information and specify the contacts.

10. Do not remain in a dangerous place

If a landlord, a volunteer or a driver is pushing you to do anything questionable and is being insistent, you should try to get to a safe place under any pretense and contact volunteers or acquaintances you trust. If you are on the road, you can say that you need to use the bathroom, and then call a trusted person when no one can hear you.

You need to do this immediately if the person is pushing you to engage in sexual contact, do any work or give them your documents or belongings.

11. Cooperate with others

Try not to remain alone. Form small groups with other women in a similar position. Look for housing together, arrange to tell each other about your plans. If you know any men you trust who could help you, ask for their support and stay in contact with them.

12. Be mindful of children

If there is a small child with you, they can accidentally give away your plans or personal information to offenders, or tell them what you talked about with your friends and trusted others. Try not to discuss your plans and fears in front of children.

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