What can you do about human trafficking?

By Lara/Trace

I had the opportunity to speak about Human Trafficking with host Russ Letica… LISTEN

WATCH: http://youtu.be/E1pXg3OqH_g

On a recent Human Trafficking web forum, I posed the question:   I write about the connection between human trafficking and adoption, when money is paid for infants using adoption agencies both nationally and internationally. What is being done to address this?

REPLY: The Federal Strategic Action Plan describes action items that the federal government will take to improve services for victims of human trafficking. The activities are centered around the U.S.definition of human trafficking as outlined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which includes compelling individuals into forced labor or commercial sex acts. To my knowledge, issues about adoption of infants have not been discussed within our interagency meetings. That said, if you believe a crime of any kind has occured, please contact local or federal law enforcement, and/or the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

What can YOU do about Human Trafficking? Get educated!

Photo of a woman with a scarf

Human trafficking, recognized as modern-day slavery, dehumanizes and traumatizes victims and shocks communities when it is discovered. Yet it is a fact of life for an estimated 20 million people around the world at any given time.12 Offices for Victims of Crime (OVC) has played a critical role in supporting victims of this heinous crime since the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, which authorized funding for OVC to support the victim services field in developing and enhancing trauma-informed, culturally appropriate services for trafficking victims. Most projects and activities are supported through grant programs, frequently in coordination with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

  • The Services for Victims of Human Trafficking Program awards funding for victim-serving organizations to provide either comprehensive services, including shelter, advocacy, and health care, or specialized legal or mental health services. From the inception of OVC’s trafficking victim services programs in January 2003, through June 2012, OVC grantees provided services to more than 4,700 individuals who were identified as victims or potential victims of trafficking.
  • Since 2003, OVC has partnered with BJA to support the joint efforts of law enforcement agencies and victim service providers to identify, rescue, and assist trafficking victims. Three years ago, OVC and BJA developed the Enhanced Collaborative Model To Combat Human Trafficking, which requires law enforcement and victim organizations in the same region to demonstrate a coordinated, victim-centered community response to trafficking cases. In FYs 2011 and 2012, partnerships were formed between 13 OVC-supported organizations and 13 BJA-funded agencies to better serve trafficking victims.

Three decades ago, the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, charged with assessing the treatment of crime victims throughout the Nation, concluded that “The innocent victims of crime have been overlooked, their pleas for justice have gone unheeded, and their wounds—personal, emotional, and financial—have gone unattended.” 1 The task force’s findings led to the passage of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984—landmark legislation that established the Crime Victims Fund (the Fund) to provide stable funding for victim assistance programs and change the landscape of a criminal justice system that was unwelcoming and all too often hostile to victims’ interests. VOCA marked the beginning of a new era for victims and those who support them.

While great progress has been made since the 1980s, the pursuit of fairness and justice for victims has not proceeded without significant challenges. Time and circumstance—while offering a fledgling profession the opportunity to build a solid foundation for serving victims, their families, and communities—have also presented horrific examples of man’s inhumanity to man. Time and again, the victim services field has been challenged to uphold the promise of VOCA.

Today the Fund, which is administered by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC),2 provides hope and help to some 4 million victims annually, primarily through major funding streams that support direct assistance to victims and compensation for financial losses associated with the victimization. In fiscal years (FYs) 2011 and 2012, nearly $1.2 billion supported a broad range of victim services, from emergency food and shelter to crisis counseling and advocacy. The beneficiaries of these services included victims of VOCA-designated priority crimes―domestic violence, sexual assault, and child maltreatment—although the needs of victims of these pervasive crimes now outstrip available resources.3 Meanwhile, new types of crime have emerged and proliferated as a result of changes ushered in by technology, globalization, and evolving demographics throughout our society.  More

Implications of Human Trafficking Federal Strategic Action Plan  Conference 1/29/14

Q: I skimmed through the action plan and do not see much on efforts to prevent people (youth and adults) from being vulnerable to trafficking. Will you please speak to efforts that are directed at preventing people from being exploited in the first place and needing victim services.

A: Thank you for your response. Based on the literature, key themes such as poverty, access to basic human rights (housing, education, health care) are routinely cited as vulnerability factors. I have yet to see a unified national effort at addressing these root factors. Do you have any insight on prevention efforts that address these macro issues?

A: Addressing human trafficking through prevention, along with other types of intervention, are critical elements in the U.S. Government’s comprehensive approach to combating all forms of human trafficking. However, those elements are beyond the scope of this Plan. Human trafficking is a complex issue and the President’s charge was to focus intensively on improving and expanding access to victim services. Thus, many critical federal efforts are outside of the scope of the Plan and were not included in the document.

Q: Law enforcement, first responders, NGO members, prosecutors etc are often reluctant to work on these cases because the crimes are so deplorable. For those who do work on such investigations, does the plan envision identifying what, if any, services should be provided to those who, because of their jobs, vicariously learn and experience the abuse victims experience? Does the plan envision determining the needs of those who work on these cases?

A: The vision and values underlying the Plan is to build more trauma-informed service networks, which includes services to victims and survivors, as well as increased trauma-informed support for the professionals and organizations providing the services (See page 10 in the Plan)

Online Videos and Guides Designed To Help Child Victims Recover Through Our Eyes: Children, Violence, and Trauma

OVC offers a number of resources related to ensuring child safety and welfare including the e-only product, Through Our Eyes: Children, Violence, and Trauma. This resource includes a public awareness video and three topic-specific videos:

  • Treatments That Work.
  • The Child Advocacy Center Model.
  • Community-Based Approaches.

These videos are the first in a series of videos that will highlight major issues in child victimization and promising practices for service providers and others working with young victims.

OVC Builds Capacity To Serve Crime Victims in Indian Country

REPORT Contents

Poverty, isolation, high crime rates, and a chronic lack of services for victims all contribute to making this underserved population a high priority. Full Fact Sheet

How the Crime Victims Fund Supports Tribal Victims
As administrator of the Crime Victims Fund, OVC channels both formula and discretionary grant funding to programs that support the rights of tribal victims.

Justice for Victims in Indian Country
Enhancing the legal knowledge and skills of prosecutors, law enforcement, and related professionals is critical to prosecuting offenders successfully.

Building Service Capacity Through Innovation and Collaboration
OVC is working to enhance services for victims of sexual assault on tribal lands, youth needing mental health care, drug endangered children, and Alaska Natives.

For More Information

OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center: 1–866–OVC–TTAC
TTY: 1–866–682–8880
OVC Resource Center: 301–519–5500
Toll Free: 1–800–851–3420
TTY: 301–947–8374

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