Griselda Vega Samuel Esq., senior director of our Anti-Trafficking Program, answers frequently asked questions about human trafficking.
Griselda Vega Samuel Esq. is the Senior Director of Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program (ATP). She is an attorney with more than 15 years of federal labor law experience, concentrating in representing low-wage workers. Griselda’s advocacy work extends to both U.S. and international fronts, where she has worked on human trafficking legislation. She has worked on policy issues related to migrant labor rights, both within the U.S. and Mexican legal frameworks, and has been leading ATP since 2014.
January 10, 2017
By Griselda Vega Samuel
To raise awareness about the terrible crime of human trafficking and what Safe Horizon does to help, I will discuss the work of Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program (ATP) and what lies ahead for the issue of human trafficking in 2017 and beyond.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is the practice of exploiting adults and children for use as commodities, or objects, in conditions of sexual and labor servitude. Victims of human trafficking are exploited for their labor under slavery-like conditions, suffering physical, psychological and sexual violence. Many victims don’t realize that what is happening to them is actually human trafficking. Indications that a person might be in a trafficking situation can include an employer holding their passport or other legal documents, threatening to hurt them or their family members if they seek help, or an employer withholding paychecks. Trafficking is a crime that is about control and coercion, the perpetrator can be a business owner or a company who literally control the actions of the victim.
Often people associate human trafficking with sex work, and while sex trafficking is a common form of human trafficking it is not the only form. In fact, labor trafficking is more common than sex trafficking. Some of the industries most impacted by trafficking include domestic work, restaurant, construction, agriculture and even manufacturing. For most of us, there may be victims of this crime we encounter almost every day while going through our normal routines, and most of the time we don’t even know that the person is in a trafficking situation.
How Does Safe Horizon and ATP Help Victims?
To provide essential services for victims of human trafficking in the New York area, Safe Horizon established ATP 16 years ago. Since its inception, ATP has helped more than 650 victims from 80-plus countries. Our program is the largest provider of direct service to trafficking victims on the east coast of the United States. We offer survivors everything from legal services to case management to practical assistance, all while working as a leading anti-trafficking advocate nationally. The program’s strength is in our broad scope of services, and that we to take a holistic approach with all of our clients. The ATP model is a single team providing comprehensive services and our team is all in house. Our direct service experience as advocates, has led us to develop a level of expertise and engagement that only a limited number of organizations around the country can offer.
What Does the Future Hold for the Issue of Human Trafficking?
Given this year’s political transition, many people are asking how we think the issue of human trafficking will fare, and as advocates we are optimistic that the new administration will continue the bipartisan support to fight human trafficking given the importance of protecting all human beings from such a horrific crime.
To learn more about Safe Horizon’s work for victims and survivors of trafficking, click here.