NYATN signed onto a letter to Representatives Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) to express our deep concerns about the effect that Secure Communities (S-Comm) will have on immigrant survivors of human trafficking and other forms of violence. It states, in part: “New York State, especially New York City, is a destination for trafficked persons…. A trafficking survivor is more often than not arrested while a trafficker remains at large signaling the continued shortcomings of local law enforcement in meaningfully promoting efforts to identify and protect them. These arrests often trigger the mandatory detention of the trafficking survivor who then faces the uphill battle like other victims of violence in securing adequate legal representation and navigating through a deportation system that offers few options and remains fraught with due process violations.” See the complete letter.
Sex work does NOT EQUAL Trafficking: The conflation of these issues perpetuates policies and practices that do not reflect the needs of those engaged in sex work: the willing, those doing it out of economic necessity, or those trafficked.
“It forbade the nongovernmental member organizations of the Freedom Network USA and other groups from using funds to refer survivors for contraceptives or abortion services, and the federal government allowed this denial of services to continue for years. This meant that we could not help the many survivors who pleaded with us to help them get contraceptive aid. “
Sex Workers Project Co-Director Sienna Baskin addresses the attacks on Village Voice Media’s Backpage in Michelle Chen’s piece, “Making Sex Workers Visible in the Village Voice Media Ad Controversy.” An excerpt from this In These Times article:
SWP argues “Sex work is real work, which means sex workers have the basic labor rights we all expect, including a work environment free of violence and exploitation. Targeting companies that work with people in commercial sex will only lead to more shrouded interactions. This marginalization and isolation increases violence, HIV/STI transmission and stigmatization, hinders access to basic services, and promotes a loss of autonomy over the conditions in which people engage in the industry. There is so much we can do to prevent trafficking and support people who do want to move out of the sex industry, and these tactics only pull valuable resources from those strategies.”
Crystal DeBoise presents “Human Trafficking and Sex Work: Identification and Special Considerations”
NYATN Steering Committee member Crystal DeBoise of the Urban Justice Center presented to social workers of Beth Israel Hospital on November 11, 2011. The presentation, titled “Human Trafficking and Sex Work: Identification and Special Considerations” was aimed to increase identification of trafficking survivors and sex workers in need of services throughout all hospital departments where social workers are located, including emergency room, substance abuse, rape crisis, and domestic violence services. Hospital social workers engaged in discussion on identifying red flags of human trafficking and making successful, limited contact interventions. The presentation also introduced best practices for working effectively and sensitively with sex workers who are victims of crime and/or who have special needs.
Crystal DeBoise is currently the Co-Director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center. Crystal previously founded one of the first human trafficking services programs at the New York Association for New Americans. She’s a licensed social worker who has been working with survivors of gender-based violence since 1998.
Crystal DeBoise wrote an article for On The Issues Magazine, “Stopping Police and DAs from Using Condoms to Convict Sex Workers.” An excerpt:
“New York State Bill A1008/S323, cosponsored by more than a dozen state senators, would stop police and prosecutors from using possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution in specified criminal or civil proceedings. According to the summary of the bill, it ‘provides that possession of a condom may not be received in evidence in any trial, hearing or proceeding as evidence of prostitution, patronizing a prostitute, promoting prostitution, permitting prostitution, maintaining a premises for prostitution, lewdness or assignation, or maintaining a bawdy house.'”
Florrie Burke has reviewed Not My Life, a documentary on human trafficking, for the Rights Work Initiative, a project of the Program on Human Trafficking and Forced Labor at the American University Washington College of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. An excerpt from the review:
“Not My Life is not a perfect film by any means…. However, it is one of the better films available on the subject and should be commended for its lack of sexsationalism. “