including commercial sexual abuse, direct violence, drug addiction and other dangers that drastically interrupt their development.
Human trafficking is a covert crime that is often misidentified as other, lesser crimes. Victims are often misidentified as prostitutes or even illegal immigrants. As defined within the federal statutes, much of prostitution is human trafficking.
Given these facts, it is obvious that these victims deserve to be recognized as such and assisted by the State. Currently, however, there are many barriers to accomplishing this end:
Challenges faced by victims of trafficking / domestic violence:
Not recognized as victims, let alone victims of domestic violence.
Lack of self awareness/identification
Lack of access to services
Lack of awareness of their rights – to immigration status on a federal level, to protections at the state and federal level
Challenges faced by Ahava Kids:
Lack of awareness surrounding the issue of human trafficking
Lack of immediate and safe housing for victims
Lack of community cooperation for the restoration and empowerment of victims
Lack of funds for victims’ needs: medical, housing, therapy, re-identification, etc.
Taking these findings, and looking at them in the totality of circumstances, the situation is dire. Consider the consequences of these three dynamics:
Victims are often immigrants who fear or distrust the police, who may be unaware of the laws, their rights, or services available to them, and who face enormous cultural and language barriers.
Victims are living in entrapped domestic situations, exposing them to violence and abuse, often forced commercialized abuse, occurrences of which are rarely reported accurately for various reasons.
They are also victims of human trafficking, which also goes unreported and is often misidentified and misunderstood.
This combination of factors has created a black hole of victimhood with virtually no means of escape.