July 30th was World Day against Trafficking in Persons. Since we provide art therapy to victims of human trafficking, we felt that it was our duty to acknowledge this important day.
Human trafficking continues to be on the rise world wide. According to a Times article, there currently is an estimated 40.3 million victims of modern slavery. 25% of the victims are children. According to the United Nations, about 72% of victims are women and girls. The rise of victims was expected considering the rise in the global refugee crisis, poverty, and conflicts, among many other causes. These horrible conditions provide opportunities for human trafficking to occur and in many instances remain undetected. It is without a doubt that more awareness and advocacy of human trafficking needs to occur to combat the rising number of victims and survivors.
Recently, the Trump administration has decreed that the federal funds that were used to help survivors clear criminal records of their criminal acts while being trafficked will no longer be available. A study found that more than 90% of survivors of human trafficking have been arrested at least on once. Due to their criminal records many are unable to get fair access to housing, schooling, and employment. Once this problem was recognized around 2004, legislation was passed to give lawyers funds to clear and expunge convictions from survivor's records. Now, those funds are no longer available, causing a huge increase of survivors in vulnerable positions.
In other news, this past year the U.S National Human Trafficking Hotline had a 25% increase in human trafficking cases reported in the past year. Almost 11,000 cases were reported in 2018 making it the highest number of cases reported since the hotline opened in 2007. It is important to mention that this may not mean that there is an increase in trafficking, it could mean that there is more awareness available. We see this as an achievement. The Manhattan Family Justice Center, the organization that we work with, oversees the hotline in New York City. When survivors call the hotline, they are placed in our program and others similar to ours. An increase like this allows us to be connected with even more survivors.