During the month of January, proclaimed National Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Month by the President in 2010, anti-human trafficking advocates and organizations nationwide are joining together to keep Americans informed and involved on the subject.
Partnering across trafficking initiatives to increase awareness and prevention of this deplorable multibillion dollar industry, 2016 is already shoring up to be a definitive year for human trafficking subject matter experts, elected leadership and NGO and public sector agencies seeking to eradicate trafficking perpetrators and demonstrate success. It will be a year of walking the walk. It will be a year where more trafficking perps are taken off the streets and tossed into the criminal justice system. And hopefully it will be a year that enables more trafficking survivors to heal and put the pieces of their lives and self-esteem back together.
In Seattle, Christian Science Monitor’s Mark Trumbull reported a team approach has created significant progress in thwarting human and sex trafficking and has brought increased convictions against perpetrators. Although millions of people are trapped in some version of forced labor worldwide, few perpetrators are ever prosecuted due to victim fear and lack of self-worth. However, an anti-trafficking task force in Seattle found that a cross agency team approach — social workers, prosecutors and detectives — works well. And, by emphasizing putting the victim first, rehabilitation and healing, before putting them on the witness stand the probability of successful prosecutions has increased too.
This type of collaborative approach has not gone unnoticed in the Beehive State. On January 27, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who had made the eradication of human and sex trafficking a priority under his administration, and his office’s Human Trafficking Task Force will host two focus groups back-to-back with trafficking survivors and healthcare providers. The Utah focus group statistics will be added to a national study, The Health Consequences of Human Trafficking and their Implications for Health Care Providers, undertaken by Global Centurion Foundation President Laura Lederer, J.D., a subject matter expert on human trafficking for several U.S. government agencies. This study takes a closer look at the interaction between first responders such as healthcare providers and trafficking victims, which is believed can foster more collaboration and training that will result in increased conviction and victim rehabilitation success.
State-by-state collaboration and inter-agency harmony don’t just happen by itself. Non-profits including Shared Hope International, Operation Underground Railroad and Fahodie for Friends, which support the anti-human trafficking awareness, rescue and rehab drum beat between NGOs, government agencies and passionate individuals, are and will continue to be essential to connecting and resolve. So get involved if you can.
Don’t be deceived, human trafficking is a massive nonpartisan problem that must transcend the January proclamation. For those who still may their doubts about modern slavery pervasiveness in the United States and worldwide, here’s a stat to chew on: human and sex trafficking is now the world’s second most profitable crime after the drug trade reaching $96 billion in profits last year (Source: Latin American Herald Tribune).