15th International Symposium of the World Society Victimology

Helen Sworn, Founder & Executive Director, Chab Dai, Cambodia

ADDRESS: Challenging present responses to victims: A case for long term focus and research

There are many dilemmas when working directly with vulnerable or oppressed populations. We can see their immediate needs and are able to respond within the area of our professional competency but often make assumptions regarding these needs and our own impact.

However, we rarely have time (or find appropriate partners) to conduct longitudinal, meaningful, relevant and ethical research to determine whether we are truly meeting their needs in a complex and ever changing environment of issues and responses. How can we develop frameworks in order to listen and learn from the experiences of those we serve? How can we develop trust with vulnerable and oppressed populations that exposes the truth and also respects their dignity and rights? How can we best use this data for advocating for these populations at both service and policy levels?

These issues and questions will be explored drawing from experiences of working in the field of human rights and trafficking for the past 16 years in Cambodia and from the past five years of lessons learned in implementing a longitudinal ten year research in partnership with 15 aftercare providers and 128 survivors of sex trafficking in Cambodia.

Helen Sworn is from the UK and has been living and working in Cambodia for 16 years with her family. She holds a masters degree in Leadership, Innovation and Change from York University, UK. Helen has been working in the field of counter trafficking and abuse since arriving in Cambodia in 1999. During this time she has worked in the border region of Cambodia and Thailand with trafficked children, assisted with the development and implementation of an aftercare home and reintegration program for trafficked children; has worked on prevention programs among the street children of Phnom Penh; carried out various program research in the field and served in organisational development and field support roles for other International and Local NGOs.

Helen founded Chab Dai in 2005 and is now the International Director, having the privilege to work with and be inspired by a passionate team of change makers. In 2010 Helen completed a succession plan in handing Chab Dai Coalition Cambodia, to national Cambodian directors. Since then she has been responsible for the international strategy and planning for Chab Dai, mentoring and coaching national directors, facilitating communication and partnerships such as UN agencies in SE Asia and in other parts of the world and most recently, developing the Freedom Collaborative, an online coalition and information portal as part of the global learning community, modeled on the lessons learned from the coalition in Cambodia and now working in partnership with government, NGOs, professionals and academia in more than 20 countries.