Freedom Network USA (FNUSA) Responds to COVID-19: Recommendations for Funders and Congress

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Human trafficking is in part, a financial crime. Survivors often exit the trafficking situation with debt, not financial resources, interrupted education, little documented employment history, little or negative credit history, and criminal records as a result of their victimization. Survivors often work at the margins, off the books, in the gig economy, or in low wage industries. These factors leave many survivors in a precarious situation in the best economy, and at higher risk currently.

Restrictions in movement, increased hate crimes, and economic crisis combine to increase the risk of human trafficking and to multiple the needs of each survivor. Weak worker protections, anti-immigrant sentiment, and marginalization of communities of color and LGBTQIA communities combine to allow traffickers to exploit workers with impunity. In desperate economic times, workers are less able to advocate for protections and to report abuse.

Freedom Network USA’s members report critical and ongoing challenges that the coronavirus pandemic is presenting in their work, and are also developing solutions that can help mitigate the impact on survivors. FNUSA has shared these reflections and recommendations with our funding agency partners to assist in their response. Additionally, FNUSA and the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) have provided joint recommendations to Congress to ensure that human trafficking survivors are included in the next COVID relief package.