Human Trafficking

What is Human Trafficking?
The 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act (22 USC §7101) defines “severe forms of trafficking” as:

Sex Trafficking
Sex trafficking is a commercial sex act that is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18.

Labor Trafficking
Labor trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage*, debt bondage*, or slavery.

*Debt bondage or peonage is a system by which laborers are bound in servitude until their debts are paid in full.  Victims of trafficking are often subjected to debt bondage, usually in the context of paying off transportation fees into the destination countries.  In many cases, the victims are trapped into a cycle of debt because they have to pay for all living expenses in addition to the initial transportation expenses.

Online Resources:

What is New Hampshire doing about Human Trafficking?
In 2007, the NH legislature passed SB 194, an act establishing a commission to study the trafficking of persons across borders for sexual and labor exploitation.  Through the passage of SB 194, the Commission was tasked with looking at the ways in which New Hampshire needs to address human trafficking in the state, as well as provide statutory recommendations to criminalize human trafficking in NH. 

After over a year of hard work and dedication, the Commission released the first-ever NH report on human trafficking on November 10, 2008 entitled, The Hidden Problem of Human Trafficking: Addressing Modern Day Slavery in New Hampshire.  Jennifer Durant, Public Policy Specialist, represented NHCADSV as the Clerk of the Commission and became the primary author of the report. 

Human Trafficking in New Hampshire
New Hampshire was the location of only the second labor trafficking case brought under the federal law.  Timothy Bradley and Kathleen O’Dell both of Litchfield, New Hampshire were convicted of human trafficking in 2003 for withholding promised wages and living conditions and refusing to release passport and legal travel documents of four Jamaican men.

There has also been evidence of sex trafficking in New Hampshire.  In August 2007 a former victim advocate for a domestic violence crisis center received a call from the National Human Trafficking Hotline in New York City.  The victim was a 17-year-old girl who had been kidnapped from her native country five years before at the age of 12.  She had been working for those five years as a sex slave in a house in New Hampshire with five other young women of similar age.  Unfortunately, this young woman fled because she was undocumented and feared getting in trouble with law enforcement.  Her status is currently unknown.

Both these cases are highlighted in detail in the final report of the Trafficking Commission

One of the major recommendations made by the Commission is to include human trafficking in New Hampshire’s Criminal Code in an effort to deter traffickers from committing their crimes in our state.  The Commission has stated that it does not want New Hampshire to be a safe haven for these activities to take place and that modern day slavery is not specifically addressed by current NH law.  They believe that the complexity of this crime should be addressed in a separate statute that defines human trafficking as a separate criminal offense.

Many state legislatures are moving toward establishing the crime of human trafficking in their state criminal codes.  While the federal government passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000, states are beginning to recognize the need to address this problem locally because it is the local law enforcement, victim advocacy groups, churches, hospitals, and the like who are more likely to identify and work with victims of trafficking. 

In a one-day conference on November 5, 2008 the United States Attorney’s Office, District of NH and the New England Regional Community Policing Institute hosted one of the first organized efforts to bring key stakeholders from various disciplines together.  Victim advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors, and lawmakers had the opportunity to learn about the hidden crime of human trafficking.  Topics included: human trafficking laws, forms of human trafficking, trafficking victim indicators, investigative techniques and strategies, psychological effects on victims, and victim resources.

While New Hampshire is beginning to address the problem of human trafficking, we are at the forefront of a movement and much remains to be done throughout the state.  Not only does human trafficking deserve a place in our Criminal Code with meaningful penalties and victim protections, but is it extremely important to increase awareness and continue training NH’s first-responders and other community and social service providers. 

The sex trafficking case from 2007 is an example of a missed opportunity to safely support the recovery and ability of trafficked persons to regain control of their lives, while assisting with the prosecution of those profiting from human trafficking.  NHCADSV believes that New Hampshire can avoid such missed opportunities if we work toward effectively intervening to rescue victims and bring offenders to justice. 

The Commission recommends that New Hampshire:

  1. Criminalize human trafficking in New Hampshire by establishing state law that adequately addresses trafficking in persons.
  2. Increase public awareness of human trafficking and outreach by training law enforcement, social service providers, healthcare providers, and other first responders. 
  3. Coordinate existing services and systems to better address victims’ needs and improve service delivery. 
  4. Work with prosecutors and law enforcement officials to develop methodologies for data collection and organization.

Click here for a copy of the commissions report.

January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness Day - Click here to read a recent editorial written by Jennifer Durant, Public Policy Specialist for the Coalition.

 

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