Functioning of Payoke
Payoke offers legal support that consists of three main components. Firstly, Payoke offers victims of human trafficking advice and guidance about the judicial and legal process they will fight against. We outline the Belgian legal system and give victims a basic understanding of the operation and its features. Secondly, we bring victims into contact with the police and law enforcement through lawyers. This usually lowers the threshold for the victims to launch a complaint against their traffickers, as they will be taken seriously with the support of Payoke and other institutions. Finally, we act on behalf of the victims of trafficking, and use our experience and power as an NGO, to fight against the problem of active criminal organizations worldwide.
The first important step in establishing the safety of victims of human trafficking is a safe place to live. In the process of rebuilding a life, many victims face the trauma that comes with violent experiences, and at a safe shelter they get the support they need from staff members and counselors. Additionally, we help victims of trafficking integrate into Belgian society by including the requirement of social skill development and learning the norms and values of Belgian life. This individual counseling helps them to integrate into the professional world while finding a suitable and stable job.
Because the Belgian administrative system is particularly extensive and difficult to understand, Payoke provides assistance with all kinds of applications that a victim of human trafficking may encounter. This includes residence permits and work permits. We also make arrangements with the Public Social Welfare Office and try to handle mutual health insurance settlements and funds in order to ensure smooth processing of administrative paperwork.
Information and Education
It is crucial that not only victims of trafficking are well informed about the subject and what Payoke does, but also society at large. Because of this need for information regarding our role and the support provided by us, Payoke publishes a yearly report in a booklet where all this information can be found as part of their commitment to raising public awareness. In addition to a number of awareness campaigns, Payoke offers the Belgian government recommendations concerning the issue of human trafficking, which has led to the “Payoke- arrangement”. Payoke tracks trends and reports on the causes and consequences of trafficking in human beings, at both the national and international level.
Trafficking victims are often deeply traumatized and terrified of the individuals responsible for their exploitation. Their trust has been violated and many of them suffer from complex trauma.
We help our clients with the healing process by providing a safe and stable environment. They get the chance to tell their story with the help of interpreters. Payoke counselors pay special attention to the cultural aspects of the victim’s experience. In cooperation with other services, our clients are supported in their integration or their voluntary return to their home country. We help victims construct a realistic plan for the future and aid them in building a social network through participation in cultural and sporting activities. Once the client is stable enough mentally, together we will look for specialized care/counseling in order to ensure a deeper process of healing from the trauma suffered.
Ambulant care is given to our clients who already live on their own and have escaped their trafficker(s). This includes psychosocial counseling, judicial, and administrative support. Our clients are assisted with their integration and growing independence as well as with the various practical problems that can arise day-to-day. To this end, we work together with the House of the Dutch Language, different services of the city of Antwerp, OCMW, housing alliances, and so forth. If everything goes well, the intensity and frequency of the counseling is gradually decreased until eventually the client no longer needs assistance and has become fully independent.