South Africa is facing serious challenges in addressing the needs of women survivors of human trafficking. Despite the government’s efforts to alleviate it, trafficking in women remains a serious phenomenon in society. It operates without boundaries and grows in magnitude both on a national and transnational level (Uranbileg & Erdenechuluun, 2010:5). The environment of inequity and discrimination allows thousands of women to be trafficked each year to urban areas of South Africa and other countries for exploitation (Upadhyay, 2012:44).
Trafficked women suffer intense trauma on a physical, sexual, psychological, economic, and social level. The harmful consequences of sexual exploitation are diverse and can develop into post-traumatic stress (US Department of State, 2014:33; Reda, 2012:18). However, this study confirms that South Africa lacks knowledge regarding the consequences and needs as experienced by women survivors of human trafficking, as well as the existence of an effective holistic social work intervention programme to attend to the needs of these survivors. Therefore, the absence of such a programme in South Africa means that professionals who are working in this field are not always well-equipped to render an adequate service to these survivors. It is against this background that the researcher designed and developed a holistic social work intervention programme for women survivors of human trafficking (HSWIP-WSHT). The ecological system as well as the person-centred approaches form the theoretical framework for this study.
The researcher combined elements of both qualitative and quantitative research, called the mixed methods research approach. The study was exploratory and applied in nature and, more specifically, involved intervention research which utilised a design and development (D & D) model. The study focused on the first four phases of the D & D intervention research to explore the feasibility of developing a HSWIP-WSHT. Qualitative and quantitative data were gathered from selected residential shelters designed for women victims of domestic violence in the Gauteng Province. An interview schedule was utilised during the qualitative phase to collect data from 14 social service providers and 12 women survivors of human trafficking as participants. The qualitative findings and the literature review contributed to the development of the HSWIP-WSHT in South Africa. Thereafter, a pilot test was conducted by means of quantitative data collection through a one-group, pre-test post-test design by means of a questionnaire that was distributed to nine respondents. The women survivors, as the intended users of the programme, were ideal participants to determine if the holistic social work intervention programme was a feasible method for exploring the consequences of human trafficking, as well as an adequate intervention programme to attend to the needs of these women in order to improve their total well-being. The research study concluded that the developed HSWIP-WSHT is indeed feasible. However, it needs refinement, dissemination, and implementation to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. It has the potential to capacitate social workers to promote the total well-being of women survivors of human trafficking in South Africa.
Certain conclusions and recommendations that are based on the outcome of this research were formulated for this specific field of practise, as well as for further research.