An inspiring end to our 9-week training course for young professionals in Asia, delivered together with Winrock International

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August 31, 2023
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This week saw the end of our online training course, “Capacity Building for Counter Human Trafficking and Research Skills”, delivered in partnership with Winrock International and funded by USAID Asia Countering Trafficking in Persons (CTIP).

The 9-week course was designed for early career professionals from the Asia region to equip them with the appropriate research skills and knowledge needed to work in the counter human trafficking field. Aiming to address the capacity gap in local expertise in the field, the course brought together over 20 participants from 10 different countries across Asia. This allowed for fruitful discussions to be had throughout the weeks, with each participant bringing something unique to the table based on their cultural and contextual situation, paired with their experiences in counter trafficking so far.

Over the course of the programme, HRC’s Mina Chiang, supported by Valentina Casulli, addressed key areas of uncertainty in human trafficking, victim identification, and safeguarding practices, while also exploring the wider impacts of human trafficking. Through the expert teaching of Michaelle Tauson PhD from Winrock International, the participants were also given guidance and training on research skills, which covered data collection, analysis, and professional writing techniques.The training also highlighted  the ethical considerations required when working with victims and survivors.

An array of specialists in counter-human trafficking, including researchers, practitioners, and activists from around the world, also shared their expertise with the participants. In week 2, Mark Taylor from Winrock International spoke on frameworks and policies to address human trafficking in the US context, whilst also sharing the challenges he has faced in the CTIP field throughout his decades of experience.

The following week, Andika Ab Wahab, a fellow at the Institute of Malaysian & International Studies, presented on human trafficking in the palm oil sector and how to effectively conduct forced labour risk assessments.

For week 6, the students gained an insight on human trafficking in the private sector from Matthew Friedman, CEO of The Mekong Club, who also shared words of wisdom regarding public speaking and working in the counter trafficking sector. John Luke Chua, of Winrock International also delivered an insightful session on focus group discussions (FGDs).


In week 7, Kristin Rosella, Legal Consultant at ReAct Asia, shared her knowledge on open source and online investigation of TIP, showcasing the newly launched self-training programme TraffickTrace. The students were also given an introduction to the impact-driven approach of participatory action research and systems thinking delivered by HRC’s Eric Kasper and Valentina Casulli.


In small groups, the participants collaboratively worked on a research project throughout the course, utilising the skills they built upon each week. Each group was tasked with forming a research question, carrying out a literature review and conducting a FGD, leading to a presentation of their findings and challenges in the final week.

The groups formed the following research questions, allowing for a unique set of presentations and findings:

Group A: What factors make for effective IO and NGO partnerships, which leads to labour TIP prevention in Asia?

Group B:  How can smartphones be used to improve knowledge around the risks of human trafficking among young people, aged 14 to 25

Group C: What are the major policy gaps in human trafficking (domestic servitude) policies in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India?

Group D: What are the major misunderstandings of CTIP through cyber scamming among the general public, and what are the implications for policy and practice in Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia?

Group E: How do the domestic frameworks of Cambodia address the specific needs and rights of human trafficking survivors concerning access to shelters and healthcare services?

The groups delivered excellent presentations and, despite the short time frame, were able to absorb the necessary skills and reproduce quality research, collaborating effectively with one another and the participants of their FGDs. Although many of the participants balanced this course with a full time job, a remarkable level of dedication was shown throughout, and the class quickly became a safe space, with students sharing constructive feedback on each other’s projects. Each student joined the course with varying levels of existing knowledge and experience with regard to counter human trafficking and the research skills needed for this field.

When asked to describe the course in one word, the students responded with words such as, “enlightening”, “engaging”, “supportive”, and “comprehensive”. We learnt a lot from the students in the process of delivering the course and we are excited to see the positive impact they continue to make within the sector.

A special thank you to Winrock International, USAID Asia CTIP, our guest speakers, and above all, the students – we are grateful to have been a part of your journeys in the counter human trafficking field, and look forward to keeping in touch!