Victim support is broad and complex, and it is tackled by a multitude of local, national and international organisations around the globe. Here we look at three organizations, The Polaris Project (advocacy, training, lobbying, housing, helplines - US and Japan); GEMS (mentoring and support - New York State); and Somaly Mam (Rescue and reintegration of survivors from Cambodia). Each organization pursues grassroots solutions to trafficking problems, many of which are discussed on the google+ hangout discussion with Nicholas Kristof, Somaly Mam and Rachel Lloyd (below).
The Polaris Project
Ten Years of Impact
Since Polaris Project was founded ten years ago, they have taken extraordinary strides to combat the scourge of trafficking that exists in our communities.
2003 Working in the Community to Support Victims Polaris Project launches an innovative victim outreach program to uncover trafficking locations, directly target trafficking networks, identify victims and connect them to services. The D.C. Government awards Polaris Project its first federal grant to support this program.
2004: After Polaris Project films shocking video footage of sex trafficking taking place right on the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., one of the nation's first community-wide Human Trafficking Task Forces is launched. This coordination triples the success rates of prosecutions.
Polaris Project opens its Tokyo office, supported through a grant from the U.S. Department of State, to combat human trafficking in Japan.
2005: Working directly with members of Congress and mobilizing our online grassroots network, Polaris Project helps win passage of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2005. For the first time, this law increases programs for trafficking victims inside the U.S.
2006: Transitional Housing Program Offers Support to Survivors. Polaris Project opens one of the only transitional housing programs for trafficking survivors in the U.S.
2007: Polaris Project joins as a founding member of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), launched by Humanity United, to strengthen U.S. laws and federal resources to fight trafficking.
2009: Through our high-level advocacy and meetings with senior officials, Polaris Project helps to secure a 25% increase in Department of Justice funding for services for survivors. Crucially, this funding supports U.S. citizen victims of human trafficking for the first time.
2010: Polaris Project helps the U.S. Department of Defense develop an online training for all military and civilian personnel on how to identify and respond to human trafficking. U.S. citizen victims of human trafficking for the first time.
2011: Law enforcement agencies open at least 172 new investigations based on tips forwarded from the hotline.
2012: 45,000 Calls. 5,500 Survivors. The National Human Trafficking hotline takes its 45,000th call and connects its 5,500th victim to services.
2013: Polaris' human trafficking hotline accepts text messages Victims, survivors and others wishing to connect with the national human trafficking hotline can send a text to "BeFree" or 233733.
"I can definitely think of clients who eventually made the call for help but if they had the option to text would have done it sooner," said Bridget Carr (professor at the University of Michigan Law School and director of the school's human trafficking clinic)
A Google+ Hangout on Modern Slavery
A three-way discussion about Sex Trafficking moderated by The Freedom Center, Cinncinati. By sharing moving and insightful observations and experiences, three inspiring individuals, illuminate their very different and very personal approach to solving the problem.
January 10, 2013
NICHOLAS KRISTOF: "Today I participated in a Google+ Hangout with two of my heroes, Somaly Mam of the Somaly Mam Foundation, and Rachel Lloyd of GEMS Girls. Both have devoted their life's work to fighting sex trafficking, and here's our discussion."
From a one-woman kitchen table project, GEMS has grown to a nationally recognized and acclaimed organization and now is one of the largest providers of services to commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked youth in the US. GEMS advocates at the local, state, and national level to promote policies that support young women who have been commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked.
President OBAMA signing the Violence Against Women Act and mentioning a GEMS' success, "Tye," in his speech.
GEMS' mission is to empower girls and young women, ages 12–24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. http://www.gems-girls.org/
The Somaly Mam Foundation
The Somaly Mam Foundation (SMF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the eradication of sex slavery and the empowerment of its survivors, led by the vision and life's work of Cambodian survivor Somaly Mam. Founded in 2007, our multilateral approach helps victims to escape their plight, empowers survivors with economic independence and as advocates and activists in next-generation change, and engages governments, corporations, and individuals in critical conversations, strategic partnerships, and actions toward real change.
Working closely with partners in Southeast Asia, where the trafficking of women and children is widespread and where, for nearly two decades, Somaly and her team have rescued women and children from exploitation and abuse and assisted them on a journey to health, hope, and economic independence. Their Voices For Change program trains survivors as advocates, activists, and leaders of next-generation change.
Now in its third year, the Voices For Change program has already demonstrated success in many ways: in the personal and professional development of each leader, in improvements in the rescue and recovery process as a result of their help, and in leaders lending a critical voice to grassroots media campaigns and police trainings. The program demonstrates what is possible when you invest in a woman and believe in her potential.
The deeper impact of this work can be seen in subtle shifts in cultural norms, in a proud network of entrepreneurial female survivors starting businesses and social enterprises, in open conversations on human trafficking in mass media, in strategic government and police partnerships, and in a growing trust in the rule of law, critical to combating corruption and protecting the victims.