Intercepting a woman or child saves one precious life from the horrors of trafficking; but convicting a trafficker may save hundreds—including those who may otherwise have been victimized, and by the deterrent effect it may have on other traffickers. For this reason, we believe that the prosecution of traffickers is one of the most important ways to fight trafficking. It is both a crucial side-effect of our Border Monitoring work, and the primary goal of our investigations department.
There a number of barriers to the successful prosecution of traffickers. Often traffickers are not present at the time a woman or child is intercepted (commonly they will make arrangements to meet up just across the border). Even if a trafficker is present or can be located, victims and their families are often pressured against filing a case by threats and bribes. Perhaps most importantly, victims are often blamed for what happened to them, may have difficulty getting married, and face a variety of forms of rejection due to social stigmatization. Because of this, victims or their families may be unwilling to file a case against their traffickers.
Despite these (and many more) obstacles, we are making significant progress in prosecuting traffickers.* We are starting to see convictions more frequently, and we believe that there is much improvement still-to-be-made in this area. If we can continue to improve, we are hopeful that it can have a significant effect at stopping human trafficking!
*At the time of this writing (February, 2015), we have 28 active legal cases against traffickers, and analysis of a dataset from June, 2014 to January, 2015, we filed legal cases against traffickers 6% of the time.