Drafters should review all relevant legislation to ensure that victims of trafficking are included in any definition of ‘victim of violence’ ‘crime victim’ or similarly defined ‘victim of gender based violence’. Including victims of trafficking with this classification ensures that victims of sex trafficking will have access to the relevant services, benefits and other forms of restitution or compensation afforded to crime victims.
Drafters should include provisions addressing benefits and services for the physical, psychological and social needs of trafficking victims. (See: UN Trafficking Protocol, Art.6, para.3; Polaris Project Model Comprehensive State Legislation to Combat Trafficking in Persons, 3.9, 2006; Model Provisions for State Anti-Trafficking Laws, Center for Women and Public Policy, Protections for Trafficking Victims Proposed Language, 6, 2005; State Model Law on Protection for Victims of Human Trafficking, Division D, 2005)
Module 3 of the UNODC Anti-Human Trafficking Manual for Criminal Justice Practitioners discusses the psychological impact of the trafficking experience and its effect on trafficking victims. (See: UNODC Anti-Human Trafficking Manual for Criminal Justice Practitioners, Module 3, 2009)
Legislation should contain provisions that prioritize victim safety, including psychological safety and access to trauma informed services.
Benefits and services should include case management, housing, healthcare, language interpretation (as needed), legal services, and educational and training opportunities. In 2008 and 2009, the Bulgarian “Animus Association” created vocational training programs recognizing the importance of reintegrating trafficking victims into the economy. (See: Response to outreach letter by the “Animus Association,” February 2010)
Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Creating Trauma-Informed Services: A Guide for Sexual Assault Programs and Their Systems Partners (2012). Available in English.
In 2008 and 2009, the Bulgarian “Animus Association” created vocational training programs recognizing the importance of reintegrating trafficking victims into the economy. (See: Response to outreach letter by the “Animus Association,” February 2010)
Housing services should include emergency, transitional and permanent housing facilities. Healthcare services should address the trafficking victims’ pre-existing health issues, as well as the immediate and long-term consequences of being trafficked, including substance abuse and chemical dependency treatment.
Trafficking victims should be provided access to legal services, including both immigration and criminal defense attorneys. (See: Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment for the State of Minnesota, Recommendation 2.1, 2008)
CASE STUDY: No Wrong Door
In July 2011, Minnesota, USA passed the Safe Harbor Act—a bill that includes protections for sexually exploited youth and clarifies that sexually exploited youth are crime victims, not criminals. Prior to the Safe Harbor Act, sexually exploited youth in Minnesota could be prosecuted and convicted of prostitution-related offenses. The Safe Harbor Act, amended in 2013, ensures that any child under the age of 18 who is identified as a victim of human trafficking will be immune from criminal sanctions related to the commercial sex acts in which they engaged as a result of being trafficked. Accordingly, the Safe Harbor Act shifted the mandated response to sexually exploited youth from a juvenile delinquency model to a victim-centered model emphasizing intervention, protection, and provision of services.
To successfully effectuate this new statutory scheme, the Minnesota Legislature realized that significant bolstering of the current infrastructure was necessary, such that it could accommodate the youth who would now enter the realm of social services, rather than criminal justice. Thus, part of the Safe Harbor Act mandated that the commissioner for public safety and the commissioner of health and human services convene a statewide working group to collectively design an effective and informed service model for sexually exploited youth and youth at risk of sexual exploitation in Minnesota. The working group included more than 65 participants from a variety of disciplines, including law enforcement, advocates, direct service providers and health professionals.
The working group developed the comprehensive service model, No Wrong Door: A Comprehensive Approach to Safe Harbor for Minnesota’s Sexually Exploited Youth (No Wrong Door). The No Wrong Door model includes 11 recommendations to coordinate systems of education, outreach, accountability, and monitoring. These recommendations include, the creation of a statewide director position to coordinate the efforts and services offered to sexually exploited youth; establishing six regional directors that will be able to respond to youth throughout the state; as well as recommendations regarding housing, youth outreach, training, prevention, and evaluation systems.
The No Wrong Door service model formed the basis for comprehensive legislation that passed the Minnesota State Legislature in May 2013. The legislation included a 2.8 million dollar appropriation to fund the state-wide director position, the regional navigator positions, housing, and training initiatives.
No Wrong Door, a comprehensive and coordinated system response model, provides an integrated approach to ending the trafficking of children in Minnesota. By better educating communities and service providers, those at risk of sexual exploitation are more likely to be identified and diverted, and by better equipping communities and services providers, sexually exploited youth will receive victim-centered and trauma-informed services and protection.
(See: “No Wrong Door: A Comprehensive Approach to Safe Harbor for Minnesota’s Sexually Exploited Youth,” Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs, 2013). Safe Harbor: Fulfilling Minnesota’s Promise to Protect Sexually Exploited Youth, The Advocates for Human Rights, 2013; Safe Harbor 2013/No Wrong Door, Sections 43-45, 622.17, 130.14 Minnesota, USA, 2013)
Benefits and services should be provided whether or not trafficking victims participate in the investigation and prosecution of the suspected trafficker.
Benefits and services should be provided regardless of immigration status. (See: UN Trafficking Protocol, Art. 6, paras. 2-4) Services should begin once a trafficking victim is identified; continue for the duration of any criminal, civil or other actions against suspected traffickers; and last until the trafficking victim has recovered. (See: Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment for the State of Minnesota, Recommendation 2.1, 2008)
The government should dedicate funding for benefits and services, which may be granted to non-governmental organizations equipped to provide such assistance to trafficking victims.