Advocating for Evidence-Based Anti-Trafficking Intervention

In 1966, President John F. Kennedy said, “Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their peers, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.”

This quote is as true today, as it was forty years ago.

Unfortunately, anti-trafficking advocates and legislators continue to regularly disseminate and rely on myths in their advocacy work. Instead of being open to third party evaluation and correction, they continue to be defensive and recalcitrant to change. Perhaps this is because they are protecting their projected image and access to funding, but the reality is that the perpetuation of misinformation leads to ineffective anti-trafficking policy and wasted resources.

As someone who is deeply committed to anti-trafficking advocacy, I have made it my personal mission to have moral courage and brave the disapproval of my peers, the censure of my colleagues, and the wrath of my society in disseminating evidence based information in my anti-trafficking work. I do this because I truly believe that this is an essential, vital quality for combating the human trafficking scourge in the United States.

Here are a few unsupported facts, which I heard most recently from the keynote speaker at an anti-trafficking summit yesterday. I think everyone is guilty (including myself) of citing them at one point or another; however, we should all strive for improvement.

Please click on the hyperlink for more information on each debunked fact:

MYTH 1: Safe harbor laws protect minor victims of sex trafficking from being criminalized.

MYTH 2: Prevalence of juvenile sex trafficking in the United States (100k or 300k).

MYTH 3: Average age of sex trafficked minors is 12-14 years old.

Other Debunked Facts

MYTH 4: Human trafficking is a ‘$9.5 billion business’ in the United States.

MYTH 5: Prevalence of sex traffickers arrested in the United States.

MYTH 6: Prevalence of human trafficking in the world (27 million).

MYTH 7: We know what intervention strategies work for reducing sex trafficking.



Obama: TPP Will Reduce Human Trafficking

Today, President Obama told a town-hall of young entrepreneurs in Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal will reduce human trafficking in the region. Unfortunately, the leverage and reward elements of this policy haven’t been effective, as implemented with the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report and associated funding.

Read more in Dr. Mehlman-Orozco’s most recent article in the Diplomatic Courier, here.