Walking alongside victim-survivors means ACRATH can effectively advocate for them.
The April page of the 2022 ACRATH calendar gives an insight into the ACRATH Companionship programme.
Liya* was18 and in Year 12 in Australia, when she was deceived by her parents into going on a ‘3 week holiday’ to her favourite aunt in her parents’ home country.
The family had arrived 10 years earlier as refugees from east Africa but clung to some of the traditions and social practices of their homeland, such as the males making all decisions for females in the household.
When Liya arrived for her ‘holiday’ she discovered herself a virtual prisoner in a city apartment building for six months with relatives she didn’t know. She was required to do all the home duties – virtually living in domestic servitude. Liya was often treated violently, was not permitted to leave the apartment building without a male family escort, and was not permitted to contact her family in Australia.
Liya feared for her future after discovering plans to make her marry a man in his fifties who she didn’t know. These plans were averted when Liya, through an apartment neighbour, was able to email a school friend in Australia, who contacted their school, which in turn contacted the Australian Federal Police in Canberra. As there was an Australian Embassy where Liya was living, the authorities were able to intervene to bring Liya safely home to Australia.
Liya became part of the Australian STPP (Support for Trafficked People Program) and Red Cross referred her to ACRATH for ongoing emotional and social support. Partnered with a trained ACRATH volunteer Companion, Liya began her long and challenging journey of recovery.
For the last several years the ACRATH companion has been able to walk alongside this young woman who faced and escaped from a forced marriage. The ACRATH companion has been instrumental in achieving essential long-term supportive accommodation and casework for the young woman.
(* name has been changed)