As members of the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, we would like to express our profound gratitude to every survivor who has worked publicly and behind the scenes to ensure that survivors receive a platform such as this. In particular, we would like to thank the survivors who responded to our Survivor Voices Survey during the drafting of this report to represent the voices of survivors around the country. We would also like to thank the nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), community members, faith-based organizations, U.S. government agencies, philanthropists, and individuals who have played a significant role in the life of every survivor of human trafficking in the United States and around the world.
We are thankful to all the U.S. government agencies for dedicating time to meet with the Council in preparation of this report, including the Department of State (DOS), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These agencies provided answers to our questions, helped us understand the distinct challenges of their work, and helped us provide measurable and achievable goals in our recommendations.
We are most grateful to Ambassador-at-Large Susan Coppedge and her staff at the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, for spending countless hours to support the Council.
Finally, we would like to thank President Barack Obama, the White House staff, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, and Members of Congress for taking the bold step to provide an honorable platform for survivors of human trafficking in the United States.
“I am honored that these talented individuals have decided to serve our country. They bring their years of experience and expertise to this Administration, and I look forward to working with them.” — President Barack Obama, December 16, 2015
The U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking is comprised of eleven survivor leaders who bring their knowledge and experience to advise and provide recommendations on federal anti-trafficking policies to the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF).
The Council was established on May 29, 2015 by section 115 of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA), Pub. L. 114-22, also known as the Survivors of Human Trafficking Empowerment Act, and in December 2015 President Barack Obama appointed the eleven members of the Council, to:
- Provide advice and recommendations to the U.S. government, specifically the Senior Policy Operating Group (SPOG) and the PITF, to strengthen federal policy and programming efforts that reflect best practices in the anti-trafficking field.
- Review federal U.S. government policy and programs intended to combat human trafficking, including programs relating to the provision of services for victims.
- Gather information from U.S. government agencies, states, and the community for the Council’s annual report.
- Publish an annual report that contains the findings derived from the reviews conducted of federal government policy and programs.
- Serve as a point of contact for federal agencies reaching out to human trafficking survivors for input on anti-trafficking programming and policies in the United States.
- Represent the diverse population of human trafficking survivors across the United States.
The Council brings expertise from its members’ personal experiences of human trafficking to conduct its work and for the purposes of this report, has organized itself into five committees to address the following topics: Rule of Law, Public Awareness, Victim Services, Labor Laws, and Grantmaking.
Additionally, in drafting the report, the Council sought input from survivors across the nation through a Survivor Voices Survey on Facebook to incorporate additional perspectives on what is needed in the anti-trafficking movement.
More information about the Council is available in the Addendum.
Note to Congress: The Council recommends Congress set aside money and amend Section 115(f) of the JVTA to allow for compensation of members of the Council for costs other than reimbursement of travel expenses and per diem. As the legislation is currently written, members are not allowed to receive compensation for their time and efforts and this creates a particular challenge for the Council. Since being appointed, Council members have taken a significant amount of time away from their families, jobs, and other commitments in order to complete the requirements of the position.
U.S. ADVISORY COUNCIL ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING
- Harold D’Souza, Council Co-Chair and Rule of Law Committee
Survivor, Spokesperson and Advocate; Co-Founder, Eyes Open International; Senior Supply Chain Associate, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
- Evelyn Chumbow, Public Awareness Committee
Survivor Activist and Project Assistant at Baker & McKenzie LLP
- Sheila White, Council Co-Chair and Grantmaking Committee
Survivor Leadership Activist and Advocate
- Minh Dang, Protocols & Procedures Committee
Team Manager, Linde Group, Inc. and Founder, MD Consulting
- Bukola Love Oriola, Council Secretary and Report Editor
Founder, The Entian Story and Owner, Bukola Braiding & Beauty Supply, LLC
- Tina Frundt, Rule of Law and Protocols & Procedures Committees
Founder/Executive Director, Courtney’s House
- Ima Matul Maisaroh, Public Awareness and Grantmaking Committees
Survivor Coordinator, Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST)
- Suamhirs Piraino-Guzman, QMHP Victim Services Committee
Accounts Specialist, Fortuna Investment Group
- Ronny Marty, Labor Laws Committee
CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and Independent Anti-Human Trafficking Consultant
- Shandra Woworuntu, Labor Laws Committee
Founding Director, Mentari Human Trafficking Survivor Empowerment Program
- Flor Molina, Victim Services Committee
Founding Member of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) Survivor Leadership Program
The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons was authorized by section 105(a) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (Pub. L. 106-386), and established by section 1(a) of Executive Order 13257 (Feb. 13, 2002). The agencies of the PITF are:
Department of State (DOS)
Department of Defense (DOD)
Department of Justice (DOJ)
Department of the Interior (DOI)
Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Department of Labor (DOL)
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Department of Transportation (DOT)
Department of Education (ED)
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Domestic Policy Council (DPC)
National Security Council (NSC)
Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR)
Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Human trafficking is a violation of basic human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Articles 4 and 5 that, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” In the 21st century, the brutality of slavery and the slave trade—no longer formally sanctioned by governments—continues in the form of human trafficking, which victimizes countless men, women, and children in the United States and throughout the world. As President Barack Obama has said, “the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking . . . must be called by its true name—modern slavery.” Survivors of human trafficking have been held in slavery and servitude, degraded, treated inhumanely, and often punished for the crimes committed against them.
It is commendable to see the United States taking the lead among nations around the world to place survivors in key positions, such as the appointment by President Barack Obama of the first U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, which provides a formal platform for human trafficking survivors to advise and make recommendations on federal anti-trafficking policies. It is encouraging to learn that the Obama Administration recognizes the enormous value that survivors of human trafficking bring to combating this $150 billion criminal industry.
Survivors of human trafficking have a compelling role to play in combating human trafficking effectively throughout the world. As subject matter experts, survivors bring a profound understanding of human trafficking based on their direct experience. They provide the clues investigators need as evidence in court, as well as the signs a community needs to recognize trafficking to prevent its citizenry from becoming victims.
This report provides actionable recommendations to the U.S. government for its work both nationally and internationally, as it collaborates with state and local governments, NGOs, faith- based organizations, community members, businesses, and philanthropists to further engage survivors to prevent human trafficking and engrain survivors as allies for lasting solutions to this heinous crime.
For each topic addressed, our report provides an overview, identifies three recommendations to improve federal anti-trafficking policies, and highlights areas for future collaboration. Before the release of our annual report in 2017, we ask that PITF agencies work with us to implement our recommendations.
WHAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING? 
Sex Trafficking: When an adult engages in a commercial sex act, such as prostitution, as the result of force, threats of force, fraud, coercion or any combination of such means, that person is a victim of trafficking. Under such circumstances, perpetrators involved in recruiting, harboring, enticing, transporting, providing, obtaining, advertising, maintaining, patronizing, or soliciting a person for that purpose are guilty of federal sex trafficking of an adult. This is true even if the adult previously consented to engage in such activities.
- Child Sex Trafficking: When a minor (defined under federal law as a person under 18 years) is recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, advertised, maintained, patronized, or solicited to engage in a commercial sex act, proving force, fraud, or coercion is not required. The use of children in the commercial sex trade is prohibited both under U.S. law and by legislation in most countries around the world.
Labor Trafficking: Labor trafficking encompasses the range of activities—recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining—involved when a person uses force or physical threats, psychological coercion, abuse of the legal process, deception, or other coercive means to compel someone to work. Once a person’s labor is obtained by such means, the person’s previous consent or effort to obtain employment with the trafficker does not preclude the person from being considered a victim, or the government from prosecuting the offender.
- Bonded Labor or Debt Bondage: U.S. law prohibits the use of a bond or debt as a form of coercion and criminalizes it as a form of trafficking in persons. Some workers inherit debt, while others fall victim to traffickers or recruiters who unlawfully exploit an initial debt assumed as a condition of employment.
- Debt Bondage among Migrant Laborers: Although contract violations and hazardous working conditions for migrant laborers do not necessarily constitute human trafficking, the burden of illegal costs and debts on these laborers can contribute to a situation of debt bondage. Such circumstances may occur in the context of employment-based temporary work programs when the workers’ legal status in the country is tied to the employer and workers fear seeking redress.
- Domestic Servitude: In the case of domestic servitude, the circumstances of providing services in a residence create unique vulnerabilities. Domestic workplaces are often informal, connected to off-duty living quarters, and not shared with other workers. Such an environment, which often isolates domestic workers, is conducive to exploitation because authorities cannot inspect private homes, as easily as formal workplaces.
- Forced Child Labor: Although children may legally engage in certain forms of work, forms of slavery or slave-like practices—including the sale of children, forced or compulsory child labor, and debt bondage and serfdom of children—continue to exist as manifestations of human trafficking, despite legal prohibitions and widespread condemnation. U.S. law prohibits the importation of goods produced by forced labor, including forced child labor.
Unlawful Recruitment or Use of Child Soldiers: Child soldiering can be a manifestation of human trafficking where it involves the unlawful recruitment or use of children—through force, fraud, or coercion—by armed forces as combatants or to carry out support roles such as cooks, porters, messengers, medics, or guards. Perpetrators may be government forces, paramilitary organizations, or rebel groups. In addition to being recruited or used for combat or labor, some child soldiers are also sexually exploited by armed groups.
Training on human trafficking for law enforcement has increased over the years, and while more and more officers are familiar with human trafficking, there are still significant gaps in knowledge and awareness. Current anti-trafficking training for law enforcement is not universal throughout federal agencies, is not always survivor-centered, and has minimal survivor input. Ensuring law enforcement officers and federal victim assistance staff have a comprehensive and standardized understanding of all forms of human trafficking is the first step to effectively combating this crime.
1. DOJ, DHS, DOL, DOI, and DOD improve training on all forms of human trafficking.
We recommend comprehensive training on all forms of human trafficking be provided for investigators, agents, victim specialists, forensic interviewers, and all federal training facilitators. Training on labor trafficking should emphasize the specific forms, with a special focus on domestic servitude, forced criminality, and forced child labor (specifically child begging and candy sales) as well as address labor trafficking within immigrant and migrant communities. Regarding sex trafficking, trainings should address the various dynamics of sex trafficking, including: pimp-controlled, gang-controlled, and family-controlled, as well as the unique needs of the LGBTQ community. Once federal employees have been trained, the agencies should increase collaboration and communication on human trafficking cases. Simply put, we recommend that all law enforcement personnel get trained to identify human trafficking cases and then work together more proactively in the field.
We also recommend agencies keep data on how many individuals are trained on new material as well as establish a process to track outcomes on anti-trafficking efforts. Data will help demonstrate whether the new training is working and identify whether outcomes are different. The U.S. Advisory Council is willing to assist if needed on the creation of ways to track outcomes.
2. DOJ, DHS, DOL, DOI, and DOD engage survivors as trainers for law enforcement investigators.
Survivors have limited involvement in advising and training law enforcement investigators on human trafficking. We recommend that law enforcement investigators be trained by survivors on the details of human trafficking, specific to the forms of trafficking and complexities of trafficking cases. As part of the law enforcement training, the Council would develop a training manual focused on the networks that operate in organized crime and human trafficking, online recruitment strategies of traffickers, and tactics for law enforcement to arrest not only the buyers in sting operations, but traffickers as well.
3. Club Owners Against Sex Trafficking (COAST) program work with the Council to improve training.
COAST is a program of the Association of Club Executives. DHS has worked with COAST to present awareness training to employees. We recommend DHS work with the Council to 1) review and update all COAST training materials, 2) train the trainers, and 3) evaluate the effectiveness of the COAST program to improve their outcomes and track if owners are truly identifying cases of human trafficking. We would also like to work with DHS to observe the trainings to further identify areas for improvement. Additionally, we recommend that DOL and DHS work together to prevent cases of human trafficking in strip clubs.
We would also like to continue working with the federal agencies to engage survivors of human trafficking to assist federal victim services efforts to create a comprehensive and culturally competent safety checklist for survivors of human trafficking, specific to their geographic locations. This safety checklist would be given to ALL human trafficking survivors that come in contact with the federal victim assistance program.
There is a lot to be done when it comes to public awareness and outreach on human trafficking. Efforts to prevent the exploitation of people in the United States are essential, but largely absent when it comes to addressing diversity, prevention, and trauma. There is a lack of diversity and failure to depict different typologies of trafficking as it relates to public awareness posters.
Additionally, there is a lack of training among professionals who interact with children and adolescents, especially those who are vulnerable, which inhibits timely and appropriate action on behalf of victims and survivors.
Public awareness and outreach is a very important tool to help fight this horrible crime. The following recommendations provide practical strategies to increase awareness; advance understanding of human trafficking; and support efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to modern slavery in the United States. We call for multiple and diverse efforts to increase awareness among a wide range of individuals and governmental and nongovernmental entities.
Efforts to identify and respond to human trafficking in the United States are emerging, with some noteworthy examples, but most are largely under-supported, insufficient, uncoordinated, and unevaluated. Identification of trafficking victims is crucial to ensure both the protection of the rights of trafficked persons, and the successful prosecution of the traffickers. Failure to identify victims at an early stage can result in insufficient protection of victims and violation of their rights. Additionally, trauma-informed awareness needs to be included in public outreach as traumatic experiences are inherently complex.
If acted upon in a coordinated and comprehensive manner, the Council’s recommendations have the potential to advance and strengthen the nation’s emerging efforts to address modern slavery.
1. All PITF agencies include a more diverse representation of survivors and represent all forms of trafficking in public awareness and outreach efforts.
We recommend agencies, and their anti-trafficking grantees, continue to diversify public awareness material to include people of all races, ethnicities, ages, and genders in their public awareness and outreach activities. Agencies, including through their grant programs, should also ensure that all forms of trafficking are represented and that public awareness materials are translated into more languages. This recommendation is for all forms of outreach, including public awareness campaigns and outreach efforts in other countries.
In addition, we recommend agencies, including through their grant programs, work with more survivors from all types of backgrounds in the development of awareness materials. For example, there is a need to have more representation of Native Americans and Middle Easterners when looking for solutions to end human trafficking. Furthermore, the DHS Blue Campaign, as well as all federal agencies that have trafficking awareness materials, should increase efforts to engage the younger generation through social media.
2. The SPOG Public Awareness and Outreach Committee agencies collaborate with survivors of human trafficking to increase efforts on prevention and identification.
We recommend these agencies create or improve materials that focus on prevention and identification of human trafficking. Agencies should take a proactive approach to enhance identification, as there are many barriers that prevent victims from coming forward. Efforts to promote self-identification and trafficking should include:
- Work with licensing authorities (boards/associations) for different industries to develop rules that require businesses to post the national human trafficking hotline in public areas.
- Continue to improve public awareness campaigns, including television shows and public service announcements for public access television and radio. Agencies should consider the best times to air television and radio messages to reach the target audience.
- Work with health practitioners to increase efforts to raise awareness in the medical field. This could include bringing in local NGOs to educate and train medical staff. Posters and other public awareness materials should be targeted to specific regions and audiences; think about placement of these materials and where they can make the most impact.
- Encourage foreign embassies in the United States to support training sessions for embassy staff on U.S. anti-trafficking laws, victim identification, and how U.S. authorities are able to respond.
- Encourage state and local school systems, in partnership with the Department of Education, to have a curriculum in place to help schools learn and understand all forms of human trafficking.
3. All PITF agencies’ public awareness and outreach be trauma-informed.
Every survivor of trafficking has a unique set of past and current cultural experiences, values, beliefs, and expectations. Culture is closely interwoven with traumatic experiences, responses, and recovery and survivors may feel conflicted by divided loyalties when cultures clash. Survivors of all forms of trafficking can be affected by trauma differently. We recommend agencies prioritize a trauma-informed approach to all public awareness and outreach efforts. This could include: trauma-informed training for mental health and medical providers; survivor-led training; and efforts to ensure videos, images, and language within public awareness campaigns are trauma-informed. Specifically, we recommend agencies use trauma- informed language and be mindful of their word choice.
We would like to develop a close relationship with the SPOG’s Public Awareness and Outreach Committee to follow up with the above recommendations. Additionally, we would like to ensure that federal grantees working in other countries collaborate with survivors to inform a comprehensive and community- informed approach to anti-trafficking awareness and outreach activities. We would like to explore ways that survivors could provide input into these activities, both domestically and internationally, and be included every step of the way, from initial development to the final product. We would also like for federal government agencies to target and produce awareness materials for foreign nationals and U.S. citizens who work in the U.S. and U.S. citizens who plan to work overseas.
Survivors of human trafficking are exposed to severe levels of trauma in their trafficking situations. When a survivor escapes, the individual needs to receive a range of services to help cross the bridge from victim to survivor. These services should be comprehensive and focused on the whole individual, not only on the physical wellbeing, but also on the psychological, emotional, and holistic wellbeing. These services should include, but not be limited to medical, dental, vision, mental health, housing, family, job training and placement, substance abuse, and family reunification. These services should be individualized and sensitive to cultural and religious beliefs.
Additionally, the housing needs of survivors of human trafficking are immense. Survivors need access to emergency, transitional, and long-term housing to establish a safe place to live, far away from their traffickers if needed, especially if they are escaping from their trafficker. Survivors of human trafficking need services that empower social justice and inclusion and provide the tools needed to succeed.
“There should be more safe houses for survivors and support groups for older victims of trafficking who are now adults who grew up in this life and who are not seen as victims, but as perpetrators. Instead of being seen as victims they are seen as prostitutes. Yes, this is a horrific thing with children, but we must see how these children also grow in this life and become damaged adults who are also victims.” — Nancy Cabrera-Chacon, Survivor, Miami, FL
1. DOJ, HHS, DOS, USAID, and DOL provide comprehensive services for all survivors of human trafficking.
Currently, there is inconsistency in the availability and delivery of services provided to survivors of human trafficking, as some services available are not offered to all survivors. We recommend that agencies provide a funding structure that ensures comprehensive services, regardless of who the survivor is. No survivor should be denied services based on their sexual orientation, spiritual beliefs, age, nationality, race, gender, and so on. Additionally, all types of services, such as housing, mental health, and other public services, should be equally provided to survivors of both labor and sex trafficking. For example, we identified that elderly survivors do not receive the same level of assistance as survivors in other age groups and recommend agencies expand resources for this population.
2. Establishment of housing preferences for survivors of human trafficking at the federal and local levels.
Currently, HUD is not authorized to mandate any federal housing preferences to prioritize housing for victims of human trafficking. Local public housing agencies are allowed to establish preference based on local need. We recommend HUD work with Congress to establish a federal housing preference for survivors of human trafficking. Currently, identified victims of domestic violence have local preference when applying for housing assistance and we would like to make this possible for survivors of human trafficking and encourage more pilot projects, such as the one in Chicago, in the interim.
At times, housing or relocation assistance is the only way to help the survivor out of the trafficking situation and gain safety. We also recommend HUD continue to work with local communities to implement a preference for human trafficking at the local levels. Establishing a preference for survivors of human trafficking will also allow agencies to develop means to obtain accurate data on victims of human trafficking and provide better understanding of the needs of survivors to ensure adequate funding.
3. DOJ and HHS anti-trafficking grantees use standardized screening questions developed with survivors’ professional input.
We recommend that DOJ and HHS grantees include standardized questions for screenings of potential survivors of human trafficking to receive services. Furthermore, we recommend agencies work together with survivor professionals to help create these tools and make it mandatory for grantees to use. The standardized questions should be culturally sensitive and trauma-informed and developed to evaluate a survivor’s individual needs.
We believe there is a need to shift the language currently used in survivor services and would like to work with agencies to ensure a more holistic and survivor-informed approach that is trauma-informed and sensitive to cultural and religious beliefs.
We would also like to work with regional HHS offices to develop a holistic approach to victim identification. Additionally, we would like to observe and advise anti-trafficking trainings for the foster care system, which could include trainings on survivor-specific services, trauma caused by human trafficking, and the effects of trauma on adolescent development.
Survivors of human trafficking have firsthand experience with traffickers and are experts in the field. Based on their own experiences with government agencies, law enforcement, and service providers, it is essential survivors are included in the development of anti-trafficking training curricula and material. Additionally, survivors should be involved directly in agencies’ anti-trafficking trainings.
DOL has identified industries with exploited, trafficked, and vulnerable workers, including industries that hire large numbers of immigrants. DOL’s Wage and Hour Division has investigated many cases within these industries to ensure protections for vulnerable workers. We believe that there should be increased funding for monitoring and investigation to protect these workers.
Survivors of human trafficking can find it difficult to live financially independent. Career development programs help survivors become self- sufficient and provide for their families. When survivors are employed, it positively affects their lives and prevents dependence on public benefits.
1. DOL collaborate with the Council to establish survivor-informed training.
Currently, survivor input and involvement in the development of anti-trafficking training is limited. We recommend DOL involve survivors in developing and updating anti-trafficking training materials and programs, including basic training for all DOL staff and specialized training for DOL staff working on human trafficking. Specialized training would include strategies to increase identification of trafficking within the workplace as well as effectively manage trafficking cases. We also recommend DOL include survivors of human trafficking as trainers.
2. DOL Wage and Hour Division increase investigations in the hospitality, agriculture, and construction industries to identify potential exploitation or human trafficking cases.
As industries grow and expand, numerous cases of human trafficking in the hospitality, agriculture, and construction industries continue to exist. We recommend DOL increase investigations and place a high priority on closely monitoring these three industries as they often employ low income, seasonal, or temporary workers. Increasing efforts will help prevent and protect workers from being exploited and trafficked.
3. DOL eliminate age requirements and background checks for all employment assistance programs.
DOL currently offers a number of programs which offer assistance to anyone who needs services with financial counseling, job readiness, and employment. Some human trafficking survivors do not have specific education and skills and are in need of training and employment services. We recommend DOL expand the current fields of vocational training and eliminate the need for background checks (as a result of the crime committed against them), and work with Congress to remove age requirements for all employment assistance programs.
It is very important that DOL involves survivors in anti-trafficking programming. We would like to work with DOL to encourage the hiring of survivors to work on projects related to human trafficking. In addition, trafficking survivors are extremely well-positioned to provide strategic guidance on investigations because of their experience. The Council would like to work with DOL to establish survivor-informed guidelines for investigations to assist with cases.
We also would like to collaborate with DOL to develop a process to collect data on trafficking cases and make the data publicly accessible.
DOL’s data on trafficking cases is limited, and this is very important for different agencies, organizations that focus on trafficking, and the public to learn about the crime. Having this information makes it easier to know what works to combat human trafficking in the present and future.
The Council would like to partner and collaborate with DOL and other agencies to ensure child labor exploitation and individual cases that occur in the informal marketplace are addressed. Such cases of child labor could include begging and selling candy on the streets or public places, or individual cases that intersect with another type of crime. We want to make sure all types of trafficking will be treated equally.
“I believe we as survivors need to work as a team, I believe organizations should work as a team. We are stronger together than apart.” — Annika Mack, Survivor, Stockton, CA
We have identified the strong need for funding of survivor leadership and empowerment programs. Survivors continue to find themselves in situations where organizations and agencies are not able to meet their needs in leadership development due to lack of cultural competency or due to not having the proper resources available to support survivors. Additionally, there are circumstances in which survivors are put in the position to tell their story to raise money or to seek funding and are not provided with opportunities to support their professional development. Survivors are being used and re-exploited through their experiences and it is our duty to ensure that the empowerment of survivors is implemented in a way that goes beyond a survivor’s traumatic story.
Survivor collaboration and input is a critical component to strengthen the overall response to combat human trafficking. Survivors are increasingly requested to participate in different conferences, events, and meetings as speakers, consultants, and researchers. However, there is no uniform financial support available. Survivor empowerment is critical for trafficking survivors to move forward in their lives and become financially independent to avoid re-exploitation. Survivors know firsthand what services are essential to assist a survivor on his or her journey. Survivors can offer critical guidance on what types of anti-trafficking programming is needed in the field, from emergency services to public awareness to training. Additionally, it is important that we learn what works and what does not and document promising practices as we go.
1. SPOG Grantmaking Committee agencies (DOS, DOJ, DOL, HHS, and USAID) provide funding for survivor leadership and empowerment.
The U.S. government needs to take a closer look at how we are defining economic opportunities for survivors and go beyond providing support for basic services to provide a platform for survivors to prosper. There are undeniably some key efforts made to support victims of human trafficking, but we have also identified a huge gap in which funding needs to shift to support the leadership of survivors.
We recommend the SPOG Grantmaking Committee agencies provide sufficient funding for survivors to support their participation in the anti-trafficking movement or career field of their choice, including economic opportunities, such as vocational trainings, skill development courses, leadership trainings, financial counseling, scholarships for school, and the overall creation of funding streams to enable survivors to further their careers. Additionally, funding for the hiring of survivors within agencies as staff or consultants will provide increased economic opportunities with wages and salaries that are equal to the wealth of expertise of survivors and agencies will benefit by having survivor input on programming and policy development.
We also recommend funding be provided to develop survivor-led trainings and materials to further our work with law enforcement, service providers, medical personnel, foster care, and any additional entities that come in contact with survivors. These recommendations could also be useful for non-grantmaking agencies.
2. SPOG Grantmaking Committee agencies (DOS, DOJ, DOL, HHS, and USAID) collaborate with the Council to identify areas for survivor input in the grantmaking process.
The Council would like to identify areas where survivor input can be incorporated into the different stages of the grantmaking process of each agency. The various stages could include program planning, development of the solicitation, review of the proposed awards, or evaluation and monitoring. The Council notes and is aware of potential limitations for collaboration regarding conflicts of interest as well as inherently governmental functions.
We also recommend the SPOG Grantmaking Committee collaborate with the Council to develop survivor-informed evaluation and monitoring tools to measure outcomes and identify promising practices in terms of services, empowerment, and leadership. Through evaluation and monitoring tools, challenges within these areas will also be identified.
3. The SPOG Grantmaking Committee identify promising practices in anti-trafficking programming.
There are currently limited resources available to understand promising practices in U.S. government anti-trafficking programming. There are existing models and trainings that have been developed, but they have not been screened for cultural competency to ensure that they meet the needs of human trafficking victims, both nationally and internationally. We recommend that current anti-trafficking grantees work with survivors around developing evaluation and screening tools that are culturally competent and trauma-informed to ensure that programming is truly meeting the needs of trafficking survivors. This process should also be implemented in the new grantee orientation.
Additionally, many of the existing models and programming are located in separate agencies without sharing of information. There is a lack of information on promising practices with outcomes and data that show their effectiveness. We recommend the SPOG Grantmaking Committee compile a report on promising practices, similar to the 2012 Promising Practices, A Review of U.S. Government-Funded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Programs. Recommended topics include survivor leadership programming, survivor-developed curricula and trainings, collaboration within communities around resources, and evaluation tools that are survivor-specific.
We would like to further collaborate with the SPOG Grantmaking Committee to better understanding its functionality and the process for information- sharing. We would also like to gain more insight around the selection process for grants. Additionally, we would like to work with the SPOG Grantmaking Committee to identify current survivor collaboration and possible areas for improvement within each of the agencies.
Finally, we would like to have a better understanding of the policies and procedures around fraud and accountability for U.S. government anti- trafficking grantees, including information on the audit process as well as site visits.
Slavery was abolished in the United States more than 150 years ago, yet millions fall prey as victims of slavery in the 21st century around the world. Human trafficking is a threat to the human race, our economic, social, and moral values and we need to employ effective strategies to tackle this type of violence.
As survivors, we bridge the gap in the system. We provide the information necessary to advise on federal policies and programs that support fellow survivors to help them reintegrate into their communities. We want survivors of human trafficking to stand on their feet again after having been knocked down and trodden upon in modern slavery.
America is the land of the free and survivors of human trafficking desire the American dream. For their dreams to become a reality, we need the support of the community, and especially the support of the U.S. government.
“I hope that the survivor leaders will not be simply seen as one opinion. I hope the Council is honored as the light and voice of thousands. The hope that too many survivors need.” –Tatyana Foltz, Survivor, CA
As the first U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, we hope that our report, the first of its kind, will make history for generations to come. We hope our recommendations do not just sit on shelves, but live as actions that will benefit even the unborn generations.
We will continue to partner as allies with the federal government, states, NGOs, and our various local communities to engage survivors to effectively address human trafficking within the United States and around the world.
The U.S. Advisory Council is currently developing protocols and procedures to guide its work that address the following three categories.
- Leadership Structure, Committees, and Council Member Duties: The Council leadership structure consists of two Co-Chairs and one Secretary to serve one-year terms. The Council has organized itself into six committees for the purposes of the report, one committee for Policies & Procedures and three committees that correspond with priority areas of the PITF: (1) Victim Services; (2) Public Awareness and Outreach; (3) Grantmaking, with two additional committees on Rule of Law and Labor Laws.
- Voting and Decision-Making Processes: The Council makes decisions through a voting process, with a simple majority determining decisions. Any member of the Council may call a vote on an issue.
- Meetings and Correspondence: The Council will meet in person at least four times a year and hold monthly conference calls. Council committees will meet at their discretion, but no fewer than once a month. All meetings are closed to the public.
“In December, the President appointed 11 trafficking survivors to the first-ever U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. Their courage and commitment remind us all of our responsibility to take bold action so that, together, we will win more battles in a fight that will surely last for generations.” — Secretary of State John F. Kerry, June 30, 2016
 The SPOG consists of senior officials designated as representatives of the PITF.
 U.N, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 4 & 5, found at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Documents/UDHR_Translations/eng.pdf.
 International Labour Organization, Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour, 2014, found at http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_norm/—declaration/documents/publication/wcms_243391.pdf.
 President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Progress in Combating Trafficking in Persons: The U.S. Government Response to Modern Slavery, December 2015, found at https://2009-2017.state.gov/documents/organization/251297.pdf.
 Senior Policy Operating Group Grantmaking Committee. Promising Practices: A Review of U.S. Government-Funded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Programs. December 2012, found at https://2009-2017.state.gov/documents/organization/207712.pdf.