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Hidden Victims of Human Trafficking - Interview at the 2012 NIJ Conference

NCJ Number
Amy Farrell Ph.D.
Date Published
June 2012
2 pages
This is the video and transcript of an interview with Amy Farrell at the 2012 NIJ Conference regarding her presentation on "Hidden Victims of Human Trafficking."
Amy Farrell - an assistant professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University - recently participated with colleagues at the Urban Institute in examining the challenges that local communities face in identifying, investigating, and prosecuting cases of human trafficking under new State human trafficking laws. The study found that local police rarely conduct proactive investigations in attempting to identify victims of human trafficking. They react only when victims report the crimes against them, which rarely happens, or when a member of the community reports a crime on behalf of trafficking victims. When cases of human trafficking are identified, approximately 70 percent are prosecuted under existing laws rather than under new trafficking laws. Another issue pertains to police attitudes toward trafficking victims who are involved in commercial sex, such as prostitution. Instead of viewing them as victims who have been exploited and abused by traffickers, police often arrest and process them as violators of prostitution laws. Amy Farrell recommends instituting training for police officers that will give them an understanding of the nature of human trafficking and why those who are trafficked should be viewed as victims instead of offenders. A proactive rather than a reactive approach to human trafficking should be emphasized, so that officers will be able to identify victims and guide them in providing evidence of their exploitation and abuse.