The narratives of trafficked female migrants in Government Protection Shelter Home 5 – exploration of the rescue process and protective custody of trafficked women

Haezreena Begum Binti Abdul Hamid

Haezreena Begum Binti Abdul Hamid, PhD Candidate in Criminology, Victoria University of Wellington,

This paper provides an insight into the trafficked women’s experiences of being rescued by the enforcement officers and held in the government shelter to facilitate their recovery, case prosecution and repatriation process. This research was conducted at a government-run shelter home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in a span of 4 weeks (mid-April to mid-May 2016).Throughout this period of time, 43 participants were interviewed comprising of 30 trafficked female migrants from 7 different nationalities and 13 professionals from Malaysia. The main objective of this research is to explore the victim identity that has been accorded to the women and if the rescue process and protective custody was something they sought. During the interview session, most of the trafficked women became emotional as they related their lived experiences of being rescued by the police and placed in the government shelter. They expressed their sadness and discomfort of having to endure their day to day lives in an overcrowded shelter, feeling bored and helpless, and uncertain of their date of repatriation. In this process, I was able to witness and document the emotional and mental distress the women were genuinely experiencing which contributed to the richness and authenticity of the information that has been gathered. Many of the trafficked women expressed their anger and dissatisfaction towards the police for conducting ‘forced rescue’ and didn’t think that they needed to be rescued from their workplace and placed in protective custody. However, there were several women who expressed their gratitude of being rescued by the authorities but were eager to return home as they didn’t expect to be held in the shelter-home for a lengthy period of time. The findings suggest that the rescue process and protective custody has created significant impact towards the psychological well-being of trafficked women.


I am a PhD Candidate in Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. I obtained my LLB Degree from IIUM Malaysia and my Masters in International Human Rights Law from Leicester, England. I am currently working on areas relating to trafficking of female migrants for the purpose of sexual exploitation in Malaysia. I am interested in discovering the true meaning of sexual exploitation and victimisation of female migrants in Malaysia. I have recently completed my fieldwork and interviews with trafficked women from different nationalities who are being held in a government run shelter home 5 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


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