"Women Like You, We Want to Help You.": Examining the Relationship between Trafficked Persons for Sex and Law Enforcement in New York City
In the US, law enforcement serves as the primary entity in identifying victims of sex trafficking. Scholars and others have questioned why identification of trafficked persons is so low while estimates of trafficking in the US are so high. New York City is a hub for sex trafficking in the US. The contradiction between increasing training and development on the part of law enforcement in NYC and a continued lack of identification of trafficked persons brings to question the nature of the relationship between trafficked persons and law enforcement. Through a series of semi-structured interviews with twenty-two former trafficked persons, this study examines the relationship between trafficked persons and law enforcement in New York City. This relationship manifests in a Victim-Criminal framework and sheds light on why identification of trafficked persons is so low. Findings illustrate that law enforcement’s simplistic perception of sex trafficking, coupled with policies that further marginalize trafficked persons, effectively inhibit the identification of trafficked persons.
Outline/structure of the Session
- Identify theories of why identification of trafficked persons is so low;
- Outline the role of law enforcement in identifying victims of sex trafficking, focusing specifically on New York City.
- Describe the Victim-Criminal Framework, which sheds light on the relationship between trafficked persons and law enforcement. Illustrate the Framework with quotes from interviewees about their experiences with law enforcement.
- Analyze the policies, coupled with law enforcement perceptions, that inhibit the identification of trafficked persons.
- Present suggested policy and training changes, based on the victim-criminal framework, for law enforcement and service providers.
- Learn about the development of response in New York City, which has been seen as a model for the country.
- Learn about the current role of law enforcement in combatting trafficking.
- Be able to understand the relationship between trafficked persons and law enforcement, how that manifests in interactions between trafficked persons and law enforcement, and how law enforcement can mitigate causing additional harm and trauma to victims.
- Learn about various changes that law enforcement and practitioners can integrate when working with victims and/or training law enforcement officials on identifying and working with trafficked persons.
- Learn about the structural and systemic reasons why identification of trafficking victims is so low.
Law enforcement officials, practitioners working with victims, practitioners working with law enforcement, individuals who train law enforcement, government officials who work with victims of trafficking