Human Trafficking
Florrie Burke  -  2005/3/16
In the state of Maryland is is mandatory for nurses to report suspected child abuse. Clearly, if I suspect a child to be the victim of human trafficking I would report this immediately. The same mandatory reporting does not hold true to the adult victim. How does a nurse in the Emergency Room setting provide the proper help for the adult victim of human trafficking if the victim is not willing to come forward?
1.  Graciela
 I just want to make sure that we know that a victim very likely will not como forward because does not know that he/she is a victim.
2.  florrie burke
 Your question raises very important issues that bring into the discussion the idea of victim rights and a client centered approach. With adults, we cannot force someone to cooperate with law enforcement. The fear factor is uppermost in the minds of persons who have been trafficked. It is a good idea for ER nurses to have some other resources at hand so that she or he can get some consultation from trafficking experts in the locale. Bringing someone else in to explain the various options for the trafficked person is important. Providing a resource is also important as the person may decide to use it later. many communities are developing materials that can be provided safely.
I would like information on the best practices for the identification of trafficking and its victims, the prosecution of cases and a model for law enforcement and social services to work together to achieve identification, prosecution and victim assistance.
1.  florrie burke
 There are many good orgs. in the country that are working on best practices now-in the area of service provision. The Dept of HHS is looking at models of identification and new grant opportunities from NIJ will look at this important question as it seems that the number of cases identified is very low in comparison to the numbers we think are there. DOJ Civil rights has good materials on prosecution. If you go to the OVC trafficking training and technical assistance website, you can get links to these resources. You can also contact me off line for more information.
Are there any health departments who have begun routinely screening for VOT (either using the HHS materials or something else) and if so, how was screening implemented (i.e, training, policy, forms,) and is the policy/program being measured/evaluated through data?
1.  florrie burke
 I do not know of any health departments that have started using a formal screening, but this is a great question and someone should be collecting the data.
How much human trafficking is in the U.S. and is there a concentration in particular areas? If there are any victims/survivors of human trafficking in our localities, what are the signs we should be looking for that identify them?
1.  Antonio Shaw
 Its interesting that you shold ask that. When i was working with a foster care agency in NY, i worked with children on the golden venture boats and children thatr were brought to this county by sankeheads (chinese mafia) and although the children gained protection through immagration, many of them are found to work profusely and send funds to their families to pay for their passage or run the risk of their families being harmed. Although nothing reeally could be done about it, the young adults that i worked with went through a type of HT that put them in a stressfull enviroment. On several occassions, i offered counseling services/threapy but they refused. I just goes to show you how deep the HT issue is when it involves childern/young adults in the foster care system.
2.  Alicia Harrison
 I have been doing some research on trafficking. What I'm finding is that numbers vary from one agency to the next. This is due in large part, to the lack of attention that trafficking has had in the past. That is, unless you were "looking for it", you likely were totally unaware that it even existed in your community, let alone your country. Up until the recent devestation with the Tsunami, this has been the case. The United Nations-Office Of Drug and Crime has a wonderful site with fact sheets on trafficking and what citizens and communities should be looking for. Being aware of what to look for is vital. There are media related materials on the site, including videos for own local TV stations to air. There is no cost.
3.  florrie burke
 It is estimated that between 15 thousand and 18 thousand persons are trafficked into the US every year, but those are soft numbers as it is a hidden crime and therefore, difficult to have good statistics. Trafficking cases have been found in all states but two and in a large variety of labor sectors as well as in forced prostitution. People are trafficked into migrant work, domestic work, factories, peddling, and most other work situations that are not highly regulated. Signs to look for are to see if something looks unusual. for example, in domestic servitude cases-if you know someone is working in a home or apartment, do you ever see them ? Do people appear to be frightened, under someone's control, are there many people living in a work situation, is there a lot of activity that might suggest a brothel ? This is not to suggest that we should go on a witch hunt and suspect everyone, but it is more a caution to keep ones eyes and ears open to your own communities and the workers you see. If you think something is going on, use one of the hotlines or helplines and get some help. these helplines are on the OVC website or I can give them to you later.
Hello. I work for the National Conference of State Legislatures. We currently have a grant from OVC designed to educate state legislators on victims' issues. We have recently been tracking the issue of human trafficking in the states. In the last few years, several states have enacted laws to make human trafficking a felony (WA, FL,TX & MO). Additionally, about a dozen or so similar measures are pending in state legislatures in '05. What do you think the appropriate state/federal role is at this time on this issue?
1.  florrie burke
 I think the most important role for states and feds is to find ways to work together both in the legislative process, the prosecutions and the responses to the crime of trafficking. We must be sure that state include victim protections when crafting their legislation. Additionally, I think both states and feds could work with providers to identify the important issues and needs such as housing and then find ways to appropriate the funds for this. In NYC we have been working hard to create guidelines for response that include both local, state and feds. It has been a challenge, but we have come out with guidelines and the cases progress much more smoothly as a result.
What are the estimated demographics and spatial patterns of human trafficking nationwide? Additionally, what is the public health impact on the victims and on society in general from this human rights crime? Finally, are efforts being made to provide meaningful resources for local and state law enforcement officials to coordinate efforts at identifying and capturing traffickers?
What steps do we need to take as a country to deter what seems to be easy access into and out of our country?
1.  Antonio Shaw
 I seriously wonder if the steps that we need to take as a country to make this country safe would not involve disrupting civil rights/bill of rights. All of these govermental organizations have flaws. No matter how much preventative measures are taken, there always seem to be the most obvious situation that gives rise to security breaches.
2.  florrie burke
 This question goes beyond my scope of expertise. I think there is great divide in the country about this issue and all of us should keep informed on pending legislation and anything that restricts human rights.
In what ways should domestic violence agencies better prepare for trafficking victims and better reach out to trafficking victims?
1.  Roselle
 In a similar vain, how can a Battered Immigrant Project within a legal aid office better prepare to represent victims of trafficking, promote private attorney involvement, provide out reach to educate the service area community as well as provide out reach to actual victims?
2.  florrie burke
 There are some excellent examples of DV agencies being ready for trafficked persons. The Florida coalition against DV has some best practice manuals and a plan that involves having shelter hubs around the state that have trained staff. Training of staff is really the most important part of involving the DV community. Many clients come from DV and sexual assault services, but if staff do not understand the issues or ask the right questions, they might miss the fact that it is trafficking. In NYC we are developing programs for our clients who are in the DV shelters that include life skills, non traditional therapies etc.
Hola! I think patience and time will help to gain the trust of a HT victim, is there anything else?
1.  Alicia Harrison
 I wanted to bring to your attention that loop holes in the legal system need to addressed. Spas were closed and reopened within days in our area. The feds had not ordered a pad lock on the location. This becomes burdensome and costly at the local level, often times leaving a loophole that allows businesses to reopen within days. Getting involved politically and bringing these kinds of loophole issues to the attention of political leaders is extremely important. The feds should be ordering padlock on all trafficking businesses.
2.  Antonio Shaw
 I agree. The trust factor in dealing with HT victims needs to be taken into essential account when especially interacting with this population. The relationship you build with the victim is detrimental to the service that you can provide to them. If the service provider cannot reach the victim, they become suspect to your intentions weather they be genuine or otherwise. HT victims should be possibly approched from the perspective of how a service provider approches victims of rape...because in actuality..they have been raped in a more diverse form.
3.  Graciela
 Can you elaborate on "having case manager with same laguage capability"?
4.  florrie burke
 You are exactly right that patience and time are the most important factors in gaining trust. However, time is not always possible if the case is going forward with law enforcement. this means that it is critical to have relationships with first responders (law enforcement and service providers) so that they can work together to maintain a victim centered approach. We have found that having case managers with the same language capability is key-also, to provide stability and a safety plan before overwhelming the client with interviews etc. Much information needs to be provided to trafficked persons in the most sensitive way possible, but with enough detail that they can make their own decisions.
Can you give an overview of the scope & dynamics of human trafficking(both internationally and nationally-U.S.) Also, how can qualified therapists help and what are the priority client needs?
1.  florrie burke
 My expertise is with trafficking here in the U.S. and I can tell you that we are seeing cases from many countries and that involve forced labor and forced prostitution and domestic servitude. It is a great idea to involve qualified therapists. I would suggest that therapists have a background in trauma and trauma treatment, immigrant and refugee issues and take some training on Human Trafficking. We have found that most clients are not ready initially for any formal psychotherapy, but rather, benefit from a consistent relationship that provides supportive counseling and can set the stage for more work later if indicated. Non traditional approaches to healing are important to people from many areas of the world and for that reason many programs are using yoga, massage, drama, writing, activity based work, art etc. We want to be sure that we develop good screening tools for trafficked persons so that we don't revictimize or make people feel that they were responsible for what happened etc. Priority needs are stabilization and acclimation to surroundings as many have not been out of their situation and don't really know where they are. Other priority needs are safety planning for the client, the staff and the family in the country of origin. There are many good trainings in the U.S, that therapists could attend to get up to speed on the issues of trafficking and then contribute to best practice models in the field-the mental health considerations are in beginning stages of development when it comes to best practice.
What advice would you give to US prosecutors/law enforcement to help them identify victims of trafficking? I know that in the past, for example, child victims of sex trafficking have been picked up by police for prostitution and re-released to the streets where their captors re-enslave them because law enforcement did not know that these children were trafficking victims. On both the local and national level, what should law enforcement and prosecutors be doing to identify and assist victims and combat this problem?
1.  Graciela
 Who did these trainings on law, interviweing, investigation, working with services providers, identification? I would like to get info to have training around this area.
2.  florrie burke
 It is now recognized in the U.S. that local and federal law enforcement plays a key role in identifying victims of trafficking. there are several national efforts underway to be sure that LE gets the proper training so that they can look at trafficked persons as victims, not criminals. 22 task forces around the country were recently funded by BJA/DOJ. The key players on those are the local law enforcement entities. These groups recently had a three day training on Human Trafficking that covered topics such as the law, interviewing, investigation, working with service providers, identification etc. Additionally, policing institutes are getting intensive training on the subject and a new program for sherriffs is being distributed. These efforts along with the all important efforts of agencies working with trafficked persons are helping to educate both LE and the public about the issue. Much more needs to be done, especially in immigrant communities. the anti-immigrant sentiments in the country and the fear of law enforcement serve to keep people from coming forward to report this crime or to help others who are being held in abusive situations. It is a huge task to educate all the law enforcement personnel who may come in contact with trafficked persons-collaborative efforts are necessary-I strongly urge the provider groups to work with LE ! Our ability to recognize and identify cases can help educate others.
What is your opinion of the international community's progress in cooperating to end trafficking? What else can be done to facilitate cooperation across borders to protect victims and prevent trafficking?
1.  florrie burke
 The international issues related to trafficking are too complex for me to address in a substantive way. I do know, however, that trafficked persons feel like "disposable witnesses" in other countries when they are asked to take the very dangerous step of testifying against the trafficker and after the trial, they are deported to their home country where they are at great risk of harm or of being re-trafficked. It is clear that other countries need to adopt some of the victim-centered approaches that we have in this country and have some immigration relief available. Additionally, education of young people needs to happen in other countries so that they are more realistic about the "job opportunities" that are advertized there. There need to be regional agreements and I think there are many efforts being made in that direction-especially in Europe. It is also important to have international meetings to share concerns, challenges and best practices-to have real "working sessions" rather than political arguments.
Ms. Burke, Thank you for moderating today's discussion. What would you say is the greatest need that is currently not being met for identified trafficked victims?
1.  Alicia Harrison
 I work for a womens shelter that is trying to bring more attention to the trafficking issue. We have some bilingual services in place and are formulating a plan that will allow us to serve trafficking victims in our shelter. In order to be effective it is likely that we will need to work local prosecutors who can recommend that victims be placed in DV shelters where they can receive counseling services, be in a safe environment and shelter, and where barriers can be identified so that the healing process and goals can be achieved.
2.  florrie burke
 I personally think that the greatest need is housing. Trafficked persons need safe, secure housing and support services from staff trained on the issues. When raids occur, when cases break, the first request is usually for housing. To date, there has not been enough funding to support adequate housing for trafficked persons. One OVC funded shelter exists- CAST, in Los Angeles with a capacity for 8 women. this is not enough! There is new legislation asking for shelters for trafficked youth from the U.S., but there has not been an effort to put forth substantial funding to establish some regional shelters. many of the NGO community have "patched together" different housing options, not none are really ideal. These shelters should be a place for people to gain stability and strength so that they can work and be productive-this is what trafficked people want-their major motivation is work. I would love to see providers advocate for appropriate housing. I don't think we will ever be able to fully provide the best services or have strong witnesses without this problem solved.
In labor trafficking cases, victims often view their situation here better than the conditions of their home country and are often "content" despite the long hours, living conditions, etc.. preferring to stay within their group of fellow victims and traffickers who speak their language and share their culture rather than cooperate with law enforcement. How can this be addressed?
1.  Lan N. Pham
 Victims are attached (by many ways) to their traffickers. They need new resources. Church contact is the safest way. Faith-based community is a place for them to reach out for help. Empower faith-based organization so victims can find a support. Local Clinic is the place to turn to for victims. Traffickers lose their bonds in this situation. Physicians should be more involved.
2.  Alicia Harrison
 I agree. But with some trust and a lot of education you can sway workers to stand up for their rights. They are only content because they BELIEVE that it is all they have. Fear is a factor when you consider that most do not have their families or their communities to support them. Barriers such as housing, language and livelihood are also contributing factors. Providing workers with the resources they need to address as many barriers as possible is extremley important. Advocacy is vital.
3.  florrie burke
 We are using outreach groups to educate folks about their rights in this country-the labor laws, conditions etc. These groups can get access to people working in the situations you describe and can pass along necessary information that will help break up the trafficking and get better conditions for the workers.
Can you tell me what nontraditional therapies you are using at Safe Horizons, especially with youth and children?
How did your program get started, who were and are your collaborators or partners and do you think a similar model can be duplicated in non-megal urban settings or in rural areas?
1.  Mary Van Hook
 I would love to learn more about your program and how you are going to about doing your work.
2.  Graciela
 I would like that information too!
3.  Roselle
 Thank you for your time and efforts in providing this valuable information. I would like to receive the follow up information you offer. My email address is
4.  Tim Myers
 If Florrie Burke is still there I would be VERY interested to also receive these details about setting up new projects. Thankyou
5.  florrie burke
 I do think programs can and should be started in smaller cities and rural areas. We are a victim service agency and added trafficking to the list of programs we have. We use partners from the immigrant communities, refugee serving agencies, faith based orgs, cultural community groups etc. We have found that not one agency can work a case-it requires a team....I will be glad to send you more info off line.
Can you provide any information on the protocol that INS follows when immigrants who are victims of trafficking are detained? How can advocates be certain victims are getting the support and information they need and where they are in the INS system? (i.e., Health related counseling services, legal advocacy and immigrant/victims rights information.)
1.  Graciela
 I would love to have some of those resources and info. How can I get them? Thanks Graciela Marquina
2.  florrie burke
 I do not know the protocol, but I know that it is important to know your ICE agents and be sure they are up to date on working with victims of trafficking. This is an area that requires a lot of delicate negotiation and cooperation. Again, I will be glad to give you some resources off line.
What would be some of the tell tale signs of a victim trafficking case from the law enforcement perspective?
1.  Antonio Shaw
 Telltale signs of HT would be thoes victims that have been beaten, physically abused..possibility of broken bones, malnurishment, disshelved clothing. The victims appear to be tired, they have no secure living arangements and become secretive in their whereabouts or of what they are doing. They may not speak you language or there is an obvious language barrier there. There is a noticeable trust factor that comes into play when interacting with HT victims. Their behavior tend to randomly shift when they are in the presence of their abuser.
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