GAIN fellow Maura Finn was a guest on the Human Views live chat on twitter last week, where she discussed human trafficking and her experience working with trafficking survivors at GAIN. Human Views is a weekly web-chat dedicated to global humanitarian issue. The conversation is reproduced below. Because of the nature of twitter (tweets are limited to 140 characters), the questions and responses are brief, but several important issues were touched on, including the particular susceptibility of poor women and children to human trafficking, and the difficulties with victim identification. 

Human Views Live Chat: Human and Sex Trafficking

[Some answers that were broken up into multiple tweets have been condensed to make the conversation easier to follow.]

HV Chat ‏@HVChat : Hi all, thanks for joining our third installation of #HumanViews.

Maura Finn ‏@Mf2304: Hi #HumanViews!

HV Chat: Hello! Thanks for joining us. We’ll be joined by my co-host [Chauntez] @TesAlyse ! Be sure to use the hashtag #humanviews

HV Chat: Q1: how does your org. – the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN) – define #humantrafficking? #humanviews

HV Chat: For Audience’s info, GAIN provides pro bono legal representation to asylum seekers and immigrant victims of human trafficking #humanviews

Maura: the definition of human trafficking will be different/broader/ narrower, depending on what law you look at, international law vs. U.S. law vs. another country’s law. The TVPA definition is the [one] relevant to our clients; but generally, victim of human trafficking is transported or recruited by force or fraud for forced labor or prostitution. Human trafficking encompasses a lot of separate crimes, so it’s broad. Sorry for the long answer. TVPA = Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act #humanviews

Chauntez Wilson @TesAlyse: Just for our information and that of our audience @Mf2304, what is TVPA?

Maura: Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. It defines human trafficking and provides for protections for victims

Chauntez: Other than TVPA, What policies are in place to disincentivize #humantrafficking and what issues exist with them? #humanviews

Maura: my area is more immigration law, so [I don’t know] that I can speak on policy, but prosecution and harsh criminal penalties are the main disincentive I would think. There are lots of difficulties with prosecution. It is hard to identify victims; then harder to find and prosecute traffickers. There are so many traffickers in the chain to track down, the recruiters, the people transporting the victims, the people harboring the victims, the people buying, the people selling. Traffickers could be in the US, in the source country, in an intermediary country, so cooperation between countries to prosecute traffickers can be a challenge too. #humanviews

Chauntez: Ok I see. What provisions exist in international and US law to assist victims? #humanviews #humantrafficking

Maura: international law – there’s the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons. It defines trafficking a little more broadly, to encompass more crimes as trafficking crimes, which is a plus. But domestic law will be more effective for prosecution. In US law, victims are eligible for a T Visa if they assist the prosecution of the traffickers. With a T Visa, victims are eligible for work authorization documents, and eventually legal permanent resident status and citizenship, if they meet the separate requirements. #humanviews

Chauntez: To your knowledge is this a standard stance among destination countries for #humantrafficking? #humanviews

Maura: Sorry, I don’t know much about domestic trafficking law in other countries #humanviews

HV Chat: For the sake of our audience, how profitable is #humantrafficking? #Humanviews

Maura: very profitable. I’ve heard estimates between $30 and 40 billion per year in profits #humanviews

HV Chat: wow, from our reports it’s a very lucrative industry. It’s a shame that selling humans is such a lucrative business though.

Maura Finn: Yeah, it really is.

Chauntez: Do you think [the provisions in US and International Law] are sufficient?

Maura Finn: Where I see a big deficiency is in the identification of trafficking victims. Law enforcement needs better training to identify victims. Victims are often mistaken for criminals. Victims of sex trafficking are arrested and prosecuted for prostitution, often many times before (if ever) being identified as trafficking victims, victims of trafficking often do not have legal status, and are deported instead of helped #humanviews

HV Chat: Q6: Do you think that human and sex trafficking magnifies an invisible war against women? #humanviews

Maura: Women and children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Women and children are also more vulnerable to extreme poverty. I would say that human trafficking is one of many ways poor women are victimized and exploited. Is that an answer? #humanviews

HV Chat: Yes it’s an answer.

Chauntez: What other industries (aside from sex work) do you see victims of #humantrafficking funneled into? #humanviews

Maura: For labor trafficking, the big ones I’m aware of are factory work, farm work, domestic work, and work at restaurants #humanviews

HV Chat: Q7: What are some of the methods you are seeing #humantraffickers use to lure and transport your clients? #humanviews

Maura: Of clients I’ve worked with, almost every time a victim was lured, it was with the promise of a legitimate job in the US. But sometimes victims aren’t lured, sometimes they’re forced or threatened, or their family is threatened #humanviews

Chauntez: You mentioned it was difficult to identify victims? How can the average person identify and assist these victims? #humanviews

Chauntez: Or to rephrase, what are cues we could look for, and actions we could take? #humanviews

Maura: It’s hard. The experts have trouble. Look for signs of abuse; if a person doesn’t control their own finances; if a person does not have any documents or ID; if a person speaks little/no English and/or arrived here recently; locks or fences that could confine a person against their will; the appearance of a relationship that looks abusive or controlling; signs of fear and/or depression; fear of law enforcement; inconsistent stories, etc. #humanviews

Maura: re: action you should take, call 911, or the FBI, or National Human Trafficking Resource center 1-888-373-7888 #humanviews

Maura: you could also try to ask the person about their situation, if they’re free to leave, if they’re paid, etc. #humanviews

HV Chat: Q9 from @Nyangiorosi how can the general public educate people and get rid of apathy. Actual ideas?

Maura: That’s a tough one. At GAIN @GAIN_Atlanta we’ve done movie screenings of “Not My Life” and “Red Light”. We also hold trainings for volunteer attorneys to take trafficking cases pro bono #humanviews

Maura: Oh, we also did a book signing of “Ma’am Anna” that was pretty well attended! #humanviews

Dawn @DSDemeritte: so to interject, anybody that educates and tries to raise awareness is helping in a sense?

Maura: I think so!

Maura: Like I said, identifying victims is a major problem. The more people aware the better.

Dawn: awesome, I watched “Not My Life” last night, we have also been sharing it on our facebook page, awesome doc!

Maura: It’s definitely eye-opening

Chauntez: Lastly, other than attending the fundraiser on Feb 13, how can we support the work of your org. and its partners? #humanviews

Maura: Nonprofits are always underfunded. You can support @GAIN_Atlanta at . Tapestri, Inc is amazing, and @Polaris_Project has great resources if you want to learn more about human trafficking. #humanviews

HV Chat: we do follow them already, great resource!

Christa Morrison @MultiMediaTales: In South Africa the definition, stats etc looks like this …

Maura: It looks like the SA definition is more similar to the UN Protocol definition. The TVPA is a little narrower, doesn’t include the abuse of power language as a means of trafficking. In the US, there must be force, fraud, or coercion. #humanviews

Christa: your convo made me think more about those [differences], Canada: …

HV Chat: Read through this last week, interesting to know!

Maura: Do you know if Canada has anything similar to a T-Visa, or any way for survivors to get status?

HV Chat: We do. We provide Special temp residence. …

Maura: Interesting. Thanks for the info!

HV Chat: Great chat tonight! Thank you to @Mf2304 for being our guest! Please follow @GAIN_Atlanta and find out how you can support! #humanviews

Maura: Thanks for having me! 140 characters is tough lol I hope my answers were helpful. #humanviews

[End of Chat]

Keep up the good work, Human Views, and thank you for raising awareness about human trafficking and GAIN!


Follow human views @HVChat on twitter for more conversations like this one. You can tune in every week at 3:00pm EST by following the hashtag #humanviews on twitter.