Written by Alicia Peters
"Federal and state human trafficking data indicate more investigations and prosecutions have taken place for sex trafficking than labor trafficking; however, victim service providers reported assisting significantly higher numbers of foreign national victims in cases of labor trafficking than in cases of sex trafficking,"
My own research supports this conclusion. How do we explain this contradiction? What became clear to me over the course of my research was that many law enforcement agents were basing investigations on their own cultural beliefs about sex and victimization as opposed to the actual reality of trafficking. Several law enforcement agents acknowledged that they viewed trafficking into forced prostitution as a more heinous crime than other forms of forced labor and that this perception influenced their work. One federal agent told me, "I don't see it [trafficking] so much as forced labor. The cases I believe are more important are women coming and working as prostitutes."
"The client that I have that has the hardest time in life is a domestic worker. She was trafficked when she was under 10 years old. She was in [the trafficking situation] until she was 23 or 24, never went to school, was totally isolated, and when she finally got out of the trafficking situation ... she got agoraphobia. She was illiterate; she had panic attacks, major depression, eating disorders. I mean the amount of obstacles that this girl had were just amazing, but her case was never, like nobody [law enforcement] went after them. Nothing happened. It was just ... brutal."