‘Women Like You, We Want to Help You’: Examining the Relationship Between Trafficked Persons for Sex and Law Enforcement in New York City


September 22 | 10:10 - 11:10 AM | Room 3020

In the US, law enforcement serves as the primary entity in identifying victims of sex trafficking. Scholars and others have questioned why identification of trafficked persons is so low while estimates of trafficking in the US are so high. New York City is a hub for sex trafficking in the US. The contradiction between increasing training and development on the part of law enforcement in NYC and a continued lack of identification of trafficked persons brings to question the nature of the relationship between trafficked persons and law enforcement. Through a series of semi-structured interviews with twenty-two former trafficked persons, this study examines the relationship between trafficked persons and law enforcement in New York City. This relationship manifests in a Victim-Criminal framework and sheds light on why identification of trafficked persons is so low. Findings illustrate that law enforcement’s simplistic perception of sex trafficking, coupled with policies that further marginalize trafficked persons, effectively inhibit the identification of trafficked persons.

Presentation Objectives:

·       To explore theories of why identification of trafficked persons is so low;

·       To outline the role of law enforcement in identifying victims of sex trafficking, focusing specifically on New York City;

·       To describe the Victim-Criminal Framework, which sheds light on the relationship between trafficked persons and law enforcement;

·       To analyze the policies, coupled with law enforcement perceptions, that inhibit the identification of trafficked persons;

·       To present suggested policy and training

About the Presenter