PADF implemented the Engaging Indigenous Women to Prevent and Counter Trafficking in Persons in coordination with the Bolivian NGO Fundación Construir from December 2016 to March 2019. The project empowered indigenous communities and local authorities to prevent, investigate, and respond to trafficking in persons in four target municipalities in La Paz, Oruro, and Cochabamba departments by training a cadre of rural indigenous women as Community Defenders (Defensoras Comunitarias) to educate, advocate, coordinate anti-trafficking actions, and encourage cooperation between government agencies. The project also emphasized outreach to indigenous officials and the incorporation of indigenous systems into anti-trafficking efforts.
Over more than two years of implementation, the project trained 240 Community Defenders to prevent and respond to trafficking in persons in their communities, who in turn reached 5,500 Bolivians through replication trainings. The project also provided technical assistance to 93 local officials, trained 40 policemen in Cochabamba and Oruro departments, and organized 55 roundtables for officials to coordinate at the local and departmental levels. Project activities have left communities, authorities, and service providers better prepared to prevent, investigate, and respond to trafficking in persons.
Based on the success of this project, PADF is currently replicating the Community Defender model in the highlands of Western Guatemala under the Strengthening TIP Prevention and Protection in Guatemala project, which began in October 2018. Under this project, PADF trains indigenous women as community defenders in four prioritized municipalities in Huehuetenango and Quiché departments. In addition, PADF works with local partners to improve the country’s ability to identify and provide comprehensive and specialized services to more trafficking victims through support to local shelters, training and technical assistance to government officials, and ambulatory attention teams to provide services to trafficking victims directly in their communities.