5 Organizations Fighting Human Trafficking
Each aims to end modern-day slavery
The U.S. Department of State estimates that at least 600,000 women, men and children are trafficked across international borders each year, and 40,000 more into the United States. These victims are often forced to engage in involuntary sex, slavery, prostitution, and labor. More than 80 percent of victims are women, and at least half are under the age of 18. Human trafficking has become the third most profitable criminal activity, behind drugs and firearms. These five organizations have dedicated their efforts to putting an end to the crisis.
Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, the Polaris Project was founded 10 years ago and has become one of the leading organizations in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. By 2011, the organization has reported more than 770 human trafficking cases to law enforcement; provided 141 survivors of human trafficking with assistance, counseling and job training; and helped pass 18 state-level bills aimed at strengthening the anti-trafficking legal framework to ensure that victims are helped and perpetrators are punished. It also operates the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline.
ln 2007, David Batstone discovered that his favorite Bay Area restaurant had been the center of a local human trafficking ring. After further investigation, Not For Sale was born, with the vision: "To re-abolish slavery in this lifetime." Since being founded, the organization has helped 1,435 survivors and at-risk people across six countries, including Uganda, South Africa, Peru, Thailand, Cambodia and Romania. Not For Sale creates tools that engage business, government and grassroots groups in order to incubate and grow social enterprises to benefit enslaved and vulnerable communities.
A number of organizations help girls in the sex industry, but Urban Light is one of the few "dedicated to making noise" regarding male victims of trafficking, child prostitution and sexual exploitation. After a service trip during which she observed the industry in Thailand firsthand, Alezandra Russel created Urban Light to provide food, housing, health services, education, emergency care and other support services to restore and rebuild the lives of male victims.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, and in 2003 it launched the Anti-Trafficking Action Coalition to help strengthen the capacity of concerned entities to more effectively recognize, protect, and assist victims of trafficking. The coalition has since instituted a technical assistance and training base with a three-fold purpose: to standardize the delivery of quality services, institutionalize expertise on trafficking, and establish best practices to assist trafficking victims. In the United States, the coalition has helped resettle some 7,600 newly arrived refugees and provided services to more than 24,500 refugees, asylees and victims of human trafficking.
Safe Horizon is the largest victims’ services agency in the United States, touching the lives of more than 250,000 children, adults, and families affected by crime and abuse throughout New York City each year. Through its Anti-Trafficking Program, it assists women, men, and children who are victims of labor and sex trafficking, and has helped in more than 360 cases, giving survivors from more than 60 countries the means to escape modern-day slavery. Safe Horizon also provides intensive legal representation in more than 1,300 cases, relating to orders of protection, U visas, trafficking visas, custody, visitation and child support.