Recommendations to Allow Victims of Sex Trafficking in the UK to Gain Access to Civil Rights/Human Rights
Establish access to civil and human rights of victims of sex trafficking as a legal obligation of states under the International Human Rights Law and moral obligation of non-state actors (Obokata, 2005). This allows victims of sex trafficking to exercise their civil and human rights when translated into service and support policies for implementation by government agencies or guiding principles in establishing NGOs for this purpose.
Make available appropriate and comprehensive services (Clawson & Dutch, 2008). The illegal immigrant status of victims of sex trafficking explains the difference in the conditions they experience. Many of the women want to get out of the sex trade but find it doubly hard because of fear that seeking help might get them deported.
However, there are also differences in the needs of individual victims of sex trafficking depending on factors such as language barrier, knowledge of legal processes, mental and health condition, security situation, and other intervening factors. The government should ensure the availability of services addressing these needs by establishing linkages among law enforcement agencies, public health care facilities, public defender’s officer, and social welfare services. Depending on which agency a victim makes contact first, the agency should be able to refer the victim to the other agencies depending on the need.
Create visible points of access (Clawson & Dutch, 2008). A way of creating access is to establish a separate desk for victims of sex trafficking in law enforcement agencies, similar to a separate desk made for victims of domestic violence. Establishing a separate desk ensures that victims once identified get to communicate with personnel with sufficient knowledge of the situation and service needs of victims of sex trafficking. A similar separate department or even only a team could also be established in public health care facilities, public defender’s office, and social welfare agencies. This would lead victims to where they can get help and provides assurance that the personnel they talk to is fully apprised of their service needs. In addition, victims of sex trafficking also become more comfortable in seeking help by knowing that there are others experiencing a similar situation, which led to the establishment of the desk, department or team specifically designated to handle cases of victims of sex trafficking. Moreover, establishing a separate desk, department or team supports individualized services and support because of the focused task assignment.
Create collaborative awareness among government agencies (Todres, 2006). This serves two purposes. One is coordinating the handling of cases including the provision of services and support. Many victims of sex trafficking are often considered as sex workers or illegal immigrants. This leads to ineffective advice and erroneous referrals. Victims end up not getting the services and support they need. This could lead to frustration and stoppage of cooperation with government agencies. The other is the sharing of vital information in locating victims of sex trafficking. Health care facilities could gain information on possible victims of sex trafficking, depending on knowledge of health care workers of risk groups and signs of victimization, who could in turn point to other victims.
Enhance public-private sector partnership (Obokata, 2005; Todres, 2006). It is common for victims of sex trafficking to shun away from government agencies or personnel such as the police or social welfare personnel because they do not want to be deported. Many victims of sex trafficking enter the country as illegal immigrants based on the promise of decent work by agents engaged in human trafficking. These victims are afraid of seeking help from the government because they might not be given a chance to remain and work in the country or to go home to their families with nothing after going through their difficult ordeal. Private sector or non-government organizations (NGOs) play an important role in allowing victims of sex trafficking access to the services and support they need. Some non-government organizations provide shelters, health care, security, and advice to victims of sex trafficking while others are only able to provide limited services. The partnership could facilitate access of victims to services and support from the appropriate government agencies through the aid of the NGOs they approach. NGOs with knowledge of locations of victims could coordinate with the police for rescue. Members of NGOs can serve as the added manpower needed by the government in providing access to services to victims because of their wide community network, enabling them to gain contact with victims of sex trafficking.
Bring the service or support to the victims (Clawson & Dutch, 2008). Most victims of sex trafficking are not able to seek help because of the restriction in their freedom, lack of information on where and how to seek help, fear of the consequences to them when considered as illegal immigrants, and stigma of reporting their experiences as forced sex workers. A solution could be to search for victims. Through private-public partnership to search for victims, they can be identified, approached through all means possible, and offered services and support.
A number of support activities facilitate the bringing of services or support to victims of sex trafficking. A support activity for the search could be to keep in touch with local neighborhood watch groups, churches, universities, and business establishments to make them aware of the situation so they can keep an eye on possible victims to show them how and where to get help or provide help themselves. Another support activity is to post addresses and contact numbers of NGOS and/or government agencies in public places such as the subway, buses, taxis, malls, supermarkets, restaurants, bars and pubs, and other business establishments. Doing these activities creates widespread awareness of sex trafficking to seek the help of everybody in helping victims to be able to exercise their civil and human rights. Still another support activity is the bridging of the communication gap (Clawson & Dutch, 2008). Use of translators or having bilingual or multi-lingual personnel in taking calls and communicating personally with victims together with the printing of brochures, leaflets and signs in different languages would address the communication barrier.
Clawson, H. J., & Dutch, N. (2008). Addressing the needs of victims of human trafficking:
Challenges, barriers, and promising practices. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved March 8, 2009, from http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/07/HumanTrafficking/Needs/ib.shtml
Obokata, T. (2005). Smuggling of human beings from a human rights perspective: Obligations of non-state and state actors under International Human Rights Law. International Journal of Refugee Law, 17(2), 394-415.
Todres, J. (2006). The importance of realizing ‘other rights’ to prevent sex trafficking. Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender, 12, 885-907.