In September 2012, President Obama announced that we would develop a comprehensive strategic action plan to help survivors of human trafficking in the United States get the support and services they need. Our colleagues at the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services are leading the way on this five-year plan, working with relevant agencies across government.
The plan was released for public comment on April 9, and now that the public comment period has closed, federal agencies are working to finalize the plan, reviewing and incorporating those comments, as appropriate. The plan currently sets out four goals:
- First, improve coordination and collaboration at the national, state, tribal, and local levels.
- Second, raise awareness of this problem, from government and community leaders to the private sector and the public at large.
- Third, ramp up victim identification efforts and make it easier for victims to access support services.
- Finally, improve the quality of services for all victims. What does that mean? It means making sure the support we’re providing is culturally appropriate and takes into account the trauma a victim has experienced. It means tailoring solutions to address the short-term and long-term health, safety and well-being of victims. It means making these services available to all victims regardless of their nationality, race, gender, age, religion, disability, or type of trafficking experience.
This plan is the first of its kind in the United States. It’s going to improve the way our government deals with this crime. And it’s going to help more victims of trafficking move forward with the lives they choose for themselves. The Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States is going to enable us to better serve all types of trafficking victims. Men, women, and children enslaved on farms and construction sites, trapped in domestic servitude, and suffering at the hands of abusive pimps.
The victim services plan in the States is going to enable us to better serve all trafficking victims because trafficking in the United States looks like trafficking everywhere else in the world. It is women trapped in domestic servitude. It is men trapped on farms and construction sites. It is women and children suffering at the hands of abusive pimps. It is the victim wondering if authorities are going to help them, or make things worse. But it is also communities coming together to help survivors. It is high school and college students raising awareness through “abolitionist clubs” that advocate to end human trafficking. It is the action at the local level, with all 50 states now having passed modern anti-trafficking statutes. And it is consumers and businesses looking at supply chains, to ensure that the shrimp, the fish, the cocoa, the palm oil, the cotton that we depend on were not tainted by exploitation and abuse