TIP Award Year:
Shakhnoza Khassanova is the director of the Legal Center for Women’s Initiative, “Sana Sezim.” She has more than a decade of impressive experience raising awareness about human trafficking, advocating for greater victim protections, and aiding migrants and victims of human trafficking from across Central Asia. Founded in 2001, Sana Sezim has been a premier anti-trafficking organization in Kazakhstan and has greatly advanced efforts within the country to end human trafficking and help labor migrants.
Led by Khassanova, Sana Sezim has worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to keep its shelter open for trafficking victims and to raise awareness about safe migration and human trafficking. Khassanova and Sana Sezim have bravely remained on the front lines to continue assisting migrants stranded at the Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan border areas due to pandemic border closures, who thus faced increased risk to human trafficking. Sana Sezim also negotiated and partnered with government agencies in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to open repatriation channels for more than 100,000 stranded migrants amid government-mandated lockdowns and public health emergencies.
Under the unparalleled leadership and direction of Khassanova, Sana Sezim continues to provide access to justice for victims of trafficking through building the organizational capacity of civil society organizations and the judicial system to combat trafficking in persons. Khassanova also works closely with local police to assist victims of trafficking who choose to participate in criminal proceedings.
Khassanova is highly respected by government officials and partners from international organizations. She trains government officials regularly, sharing important experiences on working with the victims at Sana Sezim’s human trafficking shelter