Advocacy, related to awareness, seeks to change policy by creating and changing laws, affecting public opinion and strengthening the community factors and judicial systems that will deter trafficking. Advocates against human trafficking can engage in advocacy by meeting with a legislator, writing an editorial for a newspaper, signing a petition and engaging in other activities that raise awareness and promote change. Legislation against human trafficking can be directed at the local level or be targeted at the international countries who desire a working relationship with the United States. Most importantly, advocates pray to the One who is the Defender of the helpless.
Aftercare programs attempt to address both the immediate and long-term needs of each victim of trauma. These services may include residential facilities, medical and mental health care, education, job training and economic development programs. Aftercare, or restoration, programs work to help the victims of oppression to rebuild their lives and respond to the complex emotional and physical needs that are often the result of abuse.
Organizations that focus on awareness are seeking to educate the public on the scope of human trafficking, locally or internationally. Awareness is based upon the premise that you need to know the problem to solve it. Awareness encourages the public “to look beneath the surface” and become cognizant of the trafficked victims in your own environment or outraged at the worldwide injustices that allow this to happen. Awareness work can focus on speaking engagements, workshops, trainings, social and internet networking, posting flyers, hosting special events and other creative efforts to get the word out concerning the 27 million men, women and children today who are held in slavery.
Effective action to prevent trafficking in persons requires a comprehensive approach, including measures to prevent trafficking, to protect victims of such trafficking and to prosecute traffickers. The root causes of trafficking are multifaceted. Human trafficking has grown to become such a large industry because of the seemingly unlimited supply of vulnerable victims and the high demand for sexual and labor exploitation. The “supply factors” relate to a person’s vulnerability to be trafficked. For the purposes of this notebook, organizations that deal with helping and empowering vulnerable individuals, who are at a much greater risk of being exploited by others, will be considered prevention agencies.
Strictly speaking, organizations that focus on rescue are those groups that actively work to free victims from slavery. Often they work alongside government officials to rescue victims from those who are enslaving them. In addition to those groups that do direct rescuing, we have listed organizations that offer hospitality or other social services to vulnerable populations as rescue agencies. These programs can be the key in “looking beneath the surface” to identify trafficked persons while at the same time they can offer the services necessary to provide freedom from their situation.
There is a shelter crisis for trafficked victims in the United States. Currently, there is no shelter in the Northwest for trafficked victims. The Home Foundation estimates that there are less than 100 beds nationally for an estimated 100,000 identified traffic victims annually. Placing trafficked victims in existing homeless or domestic violence shelters is not an adequate solution due to the unique needs of this population. Traffickers often search for their escaped victims (which they view as lost income), and may track the victim to the shelter, putting the other shelter residents at risk. Also, trafficking victims (especially children) may need a higher level of security than a homeless or domestic violence shelter can provide. Finally, trafficking victims have experienced a unique set of traumas which other shelters may not be equipped to address.