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Engaging Brooklyn’s Diverse Community to Fight Human Trafficking

Noelle Fries, manager of training and community outreach at our Anti-Trafficking Program, discusses a new pilot program that aims to raise awareness and engage more communities in Brooklyn to fight against human trafficking.

Noelle Fries, manager of training and community outreach at our Anti-Trafficking Program, discusses a new Trafficking Pilot Program that aims to raise awareness and engage more communities in Brooklyn to fight against human trafficking.

By Noelle Fries
January 6, 2017

Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program (ATP) is one of the largest direct service providers to victims of human trafficking on the east coast. ATP works closely with local and state governments to lead human trafficking education and prevention efforts. In the following blog post, I am going to outline our latest anti-human trafficking efforts.

How Did the Labor Trafficking Pilot Program Come About?

Contrary to what the media often highlights, the majority of human trafficking is around labor, not sex. Identifying and prosecuting labor trafficking is overall more difficult because illegal labor has the face of something that is legitimate, such as food service, domestic work, construction or salon services. To address the gap in identification and reporting, we wanted to increase awareness and education through community outreach.

What is the Labor Trafficking Pilot Program?

A longstanding partnership with The Kings County District Attorney’s office, Human Trafficking Unit (KCDAO) and the Brooklyn Human Trafficking Task Force (BKHTTF) led to the creation of a new Labor Trafficking Pilot Program aimed at raising awareness and engaging more communities located in Brooklyn in the fight against human trafficking.

Over the next two years, Safe Horizon will work alongside the BKHTTF to engage local organizations that already have strong ties to the Latinx and Asian communities in Sunset Park; a diverse area in Brooklyn, New York. An example of an organization that we have recently partnered with is Mixteca; a community organization that educates and organizes with and for the Mexican and Latin-American immigrant community in New York City. We have begun providing presentations and trainings tailored to specific audiences and organizations.

What Information is Covered Through These Presentations?

At presentations, I provide basic definitions and elements of human trafficking along with case examples highlighting available resources to survivors. I focus on informing people about how to identify trafficking, including recognizing red flags, how to interview potential victims in a survivor-centered manner and how to make appropriate referrals.
A slide from one of the Trafficking Pilot Program presentations.

What Are Some “Red Flags” or Signs of Labor and Sex Trafficking?

Human trafficking is all about power, control, and exploitation. Important red-flags include heavy surveillance at the work site or in public spaces (imagine a boss going with you to the doctor or emergency room); withholding of identification documents such as your ID or passport; very little freedom of movement or speech such as scripted narratives (a person may be told to say they make minimum wage but do not know what that hourly wage is). For health workers, a common red-flag is to see survivors with repeated injuries and, for sex trafficking specifically, present with repeated STIs or abortions.

What are Some Long-Term Goals for the Labor Trafficking Pilot Program?

Our aim is to integrate survivors involved with ATP’s survivor-led advocacy group, Voices of Hope, in the curriculum-building and community presentations and trainings. I personally feel that giving survivors the platform to use their own experience and voices in spaces that are concerned with actively trying to end human trafficking is an incredible opportunity for all of us to learn more from survivors and collaborate on how to make our work most effective.

I see the outreach program as a culmination of ATP’s work; fusing direct services with survivor empowerment with the ultimate goal of community awareness and hopeful mass paradigm shifts in not only how we understand injustice but, equally important, in how we collaborate to build and envision a truly just society.

How Can You Learn More About Labor and Sex Trafficking and Become Involved with this Work?

I encourage everyone to learn more about human trafficking by visiting our facts and stats page and joining our email list by filling out the form below!