Our years of work with trafficked persons have shown that those served using a rights-based approach tend to regain trust, safety, and self-sufficiency, and to more fully recover from their crime than those who do not. In contrast, those who are treated like criminals instead of victims, who feel that their needs are not being considered, that their stories are not believed, or that their decisions and actions are being judged, are more likely to abandon services and the criminal justice process altogether. This leads to poorer justice outcomes and increases the risk that the individual will return to the trafficker or will face other challenges to safety and well-being.
Trafficked persons are trapped not only by the actions of their traffickers, but also by the structural inequalities that create fear and vulnerabilities. Poverty, discrimination, weak worker protections, restrictive immigration policies, distrust of government institutions and shame are all manipulated by traffickers to entrap those who see no better or safer option. Laws, policies, and community attitudes can foster freedom and empowerment or repression and dependency.
“A Human Rights approach means honoring the individuality, experience, strengths, and choices of each person affected by human trafficking.”
“A holistic human rights approach to trafficking means putting survivors at the center of anti–trafficking policies by prioritizing their empowerment, prioritizing protection of their rights, and ensuring equal protections to all survivors of trafficking regardless of their gender, age, or field of work.”
“When you adopt a global perspective, considering the push and pull factors that lead to trafficking. Widening your lens and considering all parts of the problem to work with survivors to find a solution.”
New York City
“It means choosing and investing in strategies that enlarge the rights of all people, including rights to health, safety, education, freedom, and opportunity. It means looking critically at institutional actions and structure that abridge these rights.”
“A rights-based approach requires handing control back to the trafficking survivor. Survivors who assert their rights, rather than experience a “rescue” recover more quickly from their trauma. These survivors grow into leaders, working to empower others.”