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Special Rapporteur on Trafficking Critiques U.S. Approach to Arrests

NYATN worked with the U.S. Human Rights Network and other anti-trafficking organizations, as well as sex workers rights groups, when the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking came to the United States in December 2016 to take a look at how our governments address human trafficking. We join the USHRN in their statement commending the Special Rapporteur on her report and noting that she could can go even further in supporting the human rights of trafficked persons.

In the statement, NYATN notes: The NY Anti-Trafficking Network applauds the Special Rapporteur for recognizing that ‘criminalisation of prostitution also contribute(s) to vulnerabilities to human trafficking’ and recognizes the need for vacatur of criminal convictions. Arrest is never an appropriate way to try to help someone who may be a trafficking survivor, as it only further drives them into vulnerable situations, creates trauma and chaos in a person’s life, and adds an additional layer of complex legal consequences to their already complicated and difficult situation.”

#PowerOfPop: New Report on Pop Culture and Immigration

The Opportunity Agenda has released a new report on how TV portrays immigrants and immigration, including experiences of trafficking in persons. The report analyzes television coverage, noting the power of popular media in shaping public perception, and offers recommendations to advocates and pop culture producers for making change and creating more authentic images of immigrants as contributors to the fabric of our communities.

Massage Parlors & Raids on Immigrant Workers

NYATN Steering Committee member Mary Caparas wrote an important piece in The Hill on the dangers of arresting massage parlor workers in the name of preventing trafficking. These arrests drive immigrant workers and community members into even more vulnerable situations, and also put immigrant women at risk of police profiling, detention, and deportation. Check out and share her op-ed!

Thurs, March 16th, 8:30 AM: Human Rights and Trafficking in Persons: Empowering Women to Address Poverty

The UN Commission on the Status of Women begins meeting this Monday, and you can follow along at #CSW61.

This Thurs, March 16th, at 8:30 AM, NY Anti-Trafficking Network is holding a CSW61 parallel event focused on economic empowerment, human rights, and ways to end trafficking.

Details and Registration Link:

Trafficking in persons is a severe human rights violation, experienced by people of all gender identities and ages in vulnerable situations around the world. This session explores the link between human trafficking, exploitative work conditions, and economic empowerment, with a special focus on trafficked people in the United States. Panelists will address how lack of economic opportunity, migration law and policy, and law enforcement can create the conditions which foster trafficking, and how autonomy, self-determination and economic justice are the keys to a human rights approach for anti-trafficking work.

Register Now!

Thurs, March 16, 2017
8:30-9:45 AM

Armenian Cultural Center, Guild Hall
630 2nd Ave
New York

#TalkTraffic: What Should You Do If You See Someone You Think May Be Trafficked?

This is the tenth video in our 10-part #TalkTraffic video series, which we are releasing on Human Trafficking Awareness Day (January 11, 2017). See Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9

At NY Anti-Trafficking Network, people ask us all the time, “What should I do if I see or meet someone who may be trafficked? How do I help in the moment?” It can be difficult to tell if a person has been trafficked, and it takes time and understanding to see how you can help. Learn more about how you can support someone you think may be a victim or survivor of trafficking.

What You Need To Know

If you see someone you think may be trafficked, it’s a good thing you are showing compassion and interest in your fellow community members. But it’s important to stay calm and not to panic, and to think carefully about what that person might need, rather than rushing in to help.

  • It’s very difficult to tell if a person is being trafficked from just looking at someone or from only one or a few conversations. There is no formula or “quick fix” to figuring this out.
  • If you act quickly without understanding a person’s situation, the trafficker could be nearby, putting them in more danger. And calling the police or 911, especially without that person’s knowledge or consent, can be very dangerous. It may actually result in the person being arrested or deported.
  • If you regularly see someone whom you think may be trafficked, slowly build a relationship with that person. Be friendly, engage in small talk, make eye contact, and let them know over time you’re someone they can trust and you’re willing to be a resource.

At times, people feel a strong emotional response when they think they are meeting someone who may be trafficked, and they want to rush in and try to “rescue” the person who may be a victim.

  • The problem with this “rescuer” mentality is it takes the focus away from the survivor and puts it on the so-called “rescuer” and his or her point of view.
  • This has a negative consequence: It sidelines the voices of survivors and their ability to make their own decisions and reclaim their own voice, dignity, and ability to move forward in life.
  • If you see a situation that might involve trafficking, call a qualified and trusted organization that works with trafficking survivors and they can help foster a human rights approach and expertly navigate the possibilities for helping a person at risk.

If you know someone is trafficked, or if you believe they need help, once you have built up a trusting relationship, there are concrete and non-intrusive things you can do through everyday interactions.

  • Give them a cell phone they can use on their own.
  • Offer phone numbers for trafficking hotlines or domestic violence shelters, or tell them about how 911 works.
  • Tell them where the nearest hospital is.

It’s important to remember, even if you aren’t sure in the moment if a person is trafficked or you’re not able to reach out and help, there is still a lot you can do to support survivors and end trafficking! Watch our video on how you can help.

Share this video: youtu.be/HdeV2F1jCNA

Connect with us! nyatn.org | @NYATN | #TalkTraffic | Facebook

See the whole #TalkTraffic video project.

Learn more about what you can do to help.

Production Credits — Producers: Juhu Thukral, Jeffrey Yamaguchi, and Suzanne Seltzer. Video Production/Filming/Editing: Jordan Timpy and Cassie Timpy of Agape Visuals (Read their write-up about working on this project). Music: Broke For Free.

#TalkTraffic: Why Decriminalize Sex Work?

This is the ninth video in our 10-part #TalkTraffic video series, which we are releasing on Human Rights Day 2016. See Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

Trafficking happens in a wide range of low-wage industries, including sex work. In most places around the world, engaging in sex work can get you arrested. This actually makes it harder for sex workers and survivors of trafficking to seek help when they need it. Learn more about why it’s important to decriminalize sex work and keep people out of the criminal justice system.

What You Need To Know

People engage in sex work for a variety of reasons, most often because they need to support themselves and their families, and their other work options won’t pay enough for a living wage. At NY Anti-Trafficking Network, we often say, people engage in sex work because of choice, circumstance, or coercion, with life circumstance being the most common reason.

  • But there are sex workers who face coercion, which is the key element of trafficking. This means they are working in a climate of fear, or in isolation or abuse, and they are afraid to leave.
  • Sex workers who have been trafficked may have someone withhold their passport; advertise a job as waitressing when it really involves prostitution; make threats against their family; engage in physical abuse; or threaten to call the police or immigration to make an arrest.
  • The threat of arrest makes it difficult for a trafficked person to leave, because sex work is considered a crime in most parts of the world.

Many sex workers who have been trafficked are arrested, often repeatedly, before anyone in the criminal justice system understands they need help. Arrest is never an appropriate way to try to help someone who may be a trafficking survivor or is involved in sex work.

  • Arresting people who may be trafficked only drives them further into vulnerable situations.
  • Arrests create trauma, chaos, and unintended consequences in a person’s life (for example, affecting their family, children, housing, and co-workers.)
  • Arrest also adds an additional layer of complex legal consequences into that person’s already complicated and difficult situation. Under U.S. immigration law, even having a prostitution-related arrest on your criminal record can affect a person’s chances to stay on the roadmap to citizenship.

It is also dangerous for sex workers and trafficked people when customers of sex workers get arrested.

  • When customers are afraid of being arrested, it makes it more difficult for sex workers to negotiate safe conditions and decent pay. Sex workers may also be threatened by police so they will cooperate in a criminal case.
  • Actually, customers and other brothel workers are often the people who help sex workers leave trafficking situations, since they know more about their lives and daily routines than most of us.

Ultimately, it is protecting the human rights of sex workers and creating better economic options for people that helps to prevent trafficking and to keep sex workers safe.

Share this video: youtu.be/JJJ_3deYL3A

Connect with us! nyatn.org | @NYATN | #TalkTraffic | Facebook

See the whole #TalkTraffic video project.

Learn more about what you can do to help.

Production Credits — Producers: Juhu Thukral, Jeffrey Yamaguchi, and Suzanne Seltzer. Video Production/Filming/Editing: Jordan Timpy and Cassie Timpy of Agape Visuals (Read their write-up about working on this project). Music: Broke For Free.

NYATN Receives Awesome Without Borders Grant

NY Anti-Trafficking Network is so excited and grateful for our Awesome Without Borders grant from The Harnisch Foundation. This grant allows us to create two more #TalkTraffic videos on important anti-trafficking issues. Coming soon!

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