Thanks to your support, last spring the New York State legislature unanimously passed the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (the TVPJA). We now eagerly await Governor Cuomo’s signature for it to become law. This groundbreaking bill represents sweeping reform of New York State’s anti-trafficking laws, by:
ensuring that buyers of prostituted children will now face the same penalty as perpetrators of statutory rape;
providing sex trafficking as an affirmative defense to prostitution, and thereby encouraging defense counsel to investigate their clients’ experiences carefully and to bring trafficking concerns to the attention of prosecutors and courts;
equipping prosecutors with the tools to wiretap when there is probable cause to believe that a suspect owns or manages a prostitution business, operates a sex tourism business, or is pimping children under eighteen-years old, so that evidence can be obtained that does not rely exclusively on traumatized victims’ statements in order to hold traffickers accountable;
making trafficking a violent crime by creating the felony sex offense of “aggravated patronizing a minor,” and;
removing the stigmatizing gender-biased term “prostitute” from the NY State penal code.
To be effective, however, we must now press for the full implementation of these new legal provisions by law enforcement and New York’s court system. The New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition has recently submitted to the New York Police Department (the NYPD) a “white paper” calling for a paradigm shift in its response to trafficking and prostitution. Please join us in demanding that New York law enforcement stop the re-victimization of prostituted people by our justice system and instead hold accountable the real perpetrators—pimps, other traffickers, and sex buyers. Take the following action:
Write–or arrange to meet with–your local law enforcement office and communicate the message that many if not most people in prostitution are victims of human trafficking and need assistance, protection, and help exiting the conditions of their exploitation. Urge law enforcement to shift their resources and priorities in order to hold accountable the sex buyers who are fuelling this $100 billion dollar industry.
Make the issue of human trafficking a priority in your house of worship, school, work place, and community.
Stay informed about human trafficking and help educate others. Take a look at the following two videos, which offer insightful perspectives on the reality of human trafficking in the world today, and share these links broadly:
Not So Super: A video produced as part of a campaign to raise awareness about sex trafficking that happens every day in our state and country.
Jimmy Carter's Talk on Human Trafficking in the United States: A video of a talk that President Jimmy Carter delivered at Yale University last spring, in which he addressed in depth the issue of slavery and trafficking of girls and women worldwide and in the United States, as well as other human rights violations suffered by them
Visit the website for World Without Exploitation (WorldWE), the national anti-human trafficking coalition, to read powerful survivor stories, access research and statistics on human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and find action items that you can participate in to get further involved. Visit WorldWE at: http://worldwithoutexploitation.org
Please also regularly visit the website of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, a non-governmental organization that works to end human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and children worldwide, at: http://www.catwinternational.org
Help educate the young people in your life and community. Share with them Abolitionista, a graphic novel that provides a powerful entry point on the topic of human trafficking. The authors carefully designed the comic book with the help of the FBI and a dozen other counter trafficking organizations to educate young people about human trafficking and give them the tools to protect themselves. Read and share at: http://www.abolitionista.org
For further resources and information visit:
Sanctuary for Families: Sanctuary for Families is New York's leading service provider and advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence.
ECPAT-USA: ECPAT-USA is the leading anti-trafficking policy organization in the United States.
GEMS: Girls Educational and Mentoring Services’ (GEMS) mission is to empower girls and young women, ages 12–24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential.
Restore: Restore NYC’s mission is to end sex trafficking in New York and restore the well-being and independence of foreign national survivors.
Additional resources to learn more about human trafficking in New York, nationwide, and globally:
The Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report
Each year, the U.S. Department of State publishes a comprehensive report on statistics as well as government programs aimed at prevention, protection and prosecution around the globe. This document is an invaluable resource for both governments and the general population: It provides a tool for international public policy actions by ranking each government in three Tiers based on its compliance with “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” as defined by the TVPA. It also provides a wealth of information for public education on all things related to trafficking, both domestic and foreign. Furthermore, the TIP Report provides a look at how the world is doing in the fight against trafficking by illustrating the progression of each set of statistics.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
In 2003 the UN passed the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (“The Protocol”). Human Trafficking falls under the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which works with states around the world to develop stronger anti-trafficking laws and strategies. The UNODC hosts a section of pages on trafficking on its website, including pages on the facts and figures of human trafficking, prevention, protection and prosecution, tools and publications, and news and events. This website is an excellent resource for everything having to do with human trafficking on a global scale, condensed to a far more readable version than the extensive information contained in the TIP Report.
The Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)
5.5 million children a year are victims of forced labor, and the average age girls are recruited by pimps into prostitution is 12 to 14, so clearly human trafficking can have an enormous impact on children and families. The OCFS provides a resource for child and family welfare workers so that they can better identify the signs that a child may be a victim of trafficking. This webpage provides a comprehensive overview of human trafficking as it relates to children, including the legal definition of trafficking, common myths about trafficking, average victim profiles, red flag signs of trafficking, a guide to interacting with victims, and law and protocols for protecting victims. The OCFS is one of eight agencies involved in the New York State Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking.
The Polaris Project: National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)
Established in 2002, Polaris is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and advocating for victims of human trafficking both individually and as a whole. Polaris operates a trafficking hotline, partners with local organizations throughout the U.S. to provide client services and works with law enforcement and the legislature to ensure the best standards of protection of the rights of victims. Their website includes overview pages on sex and labor trafficking, signs of trafficking, international trafficking and resources for further information.
The U.S. Department of Justice
The U.S. Department of Justice, specifically the Office of Legal Policy, coordinates the national effort to develop anti-trafficking strategies and laws. Their website contains links to informational resources on trafficking, statutes, policies and reports, as well as the various offices in the U.S. government dedicated to working to eradicate human trafficking.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics gathers national data on incidents of law
enforcement and legal involvement in human trafficking. This document is one of many, but it provides a nice summary of the characteristics of human trafficking incidents in the U.S. 2008-2012. These statistics, illustrated through figures, demonstrate the scope of the problem of human trafficking in our country.
The Attorney General’s Annual Report to Congress and Assessment of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons (2012)
Each year, the U.S. Attorney General provides a report to Congress on the state of the anti-trafficking effort throughout the country. This report is quite extensive (at 181 pages), and includes sections on benefits and services given domestically to trafficking victims; immigration benefits for trafficking victims; investigations, prosecutions and sentences; international grants to combat trafficking; training and outreach; efforts of law enforcement; intra- and interagency coordination. The report also contains a condensed summary of the previous fiscal year and consequent recommendations for the following fiscal year.
The Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, 2013-2017
President Obama established The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, a goal of which was to develop an interagency plan to strengthen anti-trafficking action and victim services. Through a combined effort by the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Homeland Security, the Strategic Action Plan was developed, the first of its kind. It is a 5-year plan for “coordination, collaboration and capacity” amongst government and non-government organizations to strengthen U.S. anti-trafficking efforts and provide support to victims.