VAWA Passage is Good News for Anti Trafficking Efforts
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. CyberTipline.org
In March, the latest iteration of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was finally reauthorized after a delay of many years. This comprehensive response to domestic violence, stalking and other gender-based crimes is an important vehicle to help reduce and prevent human trafficking, hold traffickers accountable and support survivors.
Among these is a provision that makes it a crime for federal law enforcement officers to engage in sexual contact with anyone in their custody. Unfortunately, situations like this are not uncommon. There have also been reported incidents of law enforcement engaging in sexual conduct with potential trafficking victims under the guise of investigating the potential trafficking situation.
The legislation also includes a mandated study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development specifically on the housing and service needs of survivors of sex and labor trafficking and those at risk for trafficking. Data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline shows that housing instability is a key risk factor for trafficking and recognition of the role the government can play in preventing trafficking by providing housing services and supports is welcome news.