Protecting Trafficking Survivors

September 18, 2023
Protecting Trafficking Survivors

The article is a fact sheet by Shared Hope International on protecting trafficking survivors from unjust criminalization. It explains that due to the power and control exercised by their traffickers, victims are often compelled or forced to commit crimes they otherwise would not. These crimes can range from prostitution and related charges to drug possession, or even more serious crimes such as trafficking itself. These “victim–offenders,” or survivors who find themselves in the intersection of victimization and criminal offender, are retraumatized by their detention and prosecution. They are also left with a criminal record that hinders their ability to secure safe housing, employment, education, and other services.

The inability to develop their lives may leave survivors feeling stuck, financially restricted, and with no way to move forward except by returning to their trafficker. Although some states have taken action to address this by allowing trafficking victims to expunge or vacate unjust convictions, Congress has yet to take similar action on this issue, leaving victims with no Federal protection from unjust criminalization. To address this issue and provide enduring support for trafficking victims, Shared Hope International supports a Federal affirmative defense and comprehensive vacatur legislation.

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