Victims are prone to re-victimization in the absence of a coordinated effort to provide them
with services—such as housing, medical and dental care, and substance abuse treatment—and
track their progress and whereabouts. Children are even more vulnerable because of their age.
They are much more likely to return to the criminals who trafficked them in the first place, or they
may fall into the hands of another trafficker.119 Identifying a trafficking victim and referring him
or her to services does not necessarily mean that he or she was rescued and that services were
provided.120 A more centralized and coordinated national system of victim referral and service
provision could reduce the gap between anti-trafficking policy and action.
The U.S. DHHS could play a role similar to that of the NRM in the United Kingdom. The
DHHS could serve as the national center for identification and referral; every suspected case of
human trafficking in the United States could be referred to that agency. Like the United Kingdom,
there should be a system in the United States for a first responder who identifies a victim for
referral to the DHHS. The DHHS could then coordinate with state and local officials to provide
services to victims. Admittedly, the United States’ size and population would make a central
system of referral more difficult to administer than in a smaller country, like the United Kingdom.
It will require a lot more resources and coordination amongst what will likely be numerous
government agencies. However, that does not mean it could not be done.
A statutory provision that recognizes victims as vulnerable and intimidated would also be
beneficial. The treatment of a trafficking victim mostly depends on the sensitivity and knowledge
of the law enforcement officers with whom the victim interacts. A law that places an obligation on
law enforcement officials to view victims of trafficking as intimidated would require training for
those officers on how to interact with vulnerable victims. At the very least, members of law
enforcement would receive guidance or standard operating procedures to follow when interacting
with vulnerable victims.
There is also a need in the United States for uniform guidelines on interviewing trafficking
victims. Different interested parties, ranging from law enforcement agents to social service
providers, usually subject a victim of trafficking to a barrage of interviews. It is essential that these
interviews be well coordinated and conducted in a way that does not aggravate a victim’s trauma,
especially when the victim is a child. Uniform guidelines at the national level would be helpful
because they would require optimal interviewing practices across the country.
Trafficking victims may continue to suffer the consequences of the crime long after the
trafficking has ended. Victims must be given adequate and timely services to help them rebuild
their lives and recover from the traumatic effects of being trafficked. As such, trafficking victim
protection and services, especially for children, must play a central role in any legislation or legal
frameworks on human trafficking.
The United States’ TVPA 2000 was a landmark law on human trafficking that has been
reauthorized and updated over the years. Other federal legislation, such as the PSTSFA and JVTA
have been enacted to ensure that the United States has a robust anti-trafficking legal framework.
This framework has served as a template and model for anti-trafficking laws worldwide.
119 Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco, What Happens After a Human Trafficking Victim is ‘Rescued’?, THE HILL (July 29,
2016, 4:28 PM), http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/judicial/289709-what-happens-after-a-human-trafficking-