Human sex traffickers use threats, violence, or coercion to gain power over vulnerable individuals and treat their victims as modern-day slaves. By selling their victims’ bodies, the traffickers are able to make large amounts of money. While laws like the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 are in place to combat this massive crime against human rights, the number of victims of human trafficking continues grow and the MD HT Task Force of which MCASA is a member works hard to combat human trafficking in our state . This issue of Frontline includes articles addressing the topic of human sex trafficking.
In Maryland, two MCASA member sexual assault programs are helping to lead the way in providing services to survivors. One program, TurnAround, Inc., is in this issue’s Program Spotlight. TurnAround provides services, including shelter, to trafficking survivors in Baltimore City and County and has served countless girls and women since opening its doors in 1978. On the Eastern Shore, the Life Crisis Center provides services to international human sex trafficking survivors under a contract with the Department of Justice. Other sexual assault programs are seeking funding to increase services on a local or regional basis.
Human sex trafficking presents new challenges to systemic responses. An article on Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs) provides guidance about what to consider when addressing the issue within a SART. Within the legal system, Maryland has made slow incremental progress in state laws. An article looks at recent legal changes and future plans.
In many respects, human sex trafficking is simply a variation on the same issues MCASA programs have always addressed: oppression, power & control at the most personal level. Preventing, responding, and ending human sex trafficking is part of the anti-sexual violence work of MCASA.
Lisae C. Jordan, Esq.
Executive Director & Counsel
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault