Human Trafficking and Social Justice: Where do we go from here?
Human trafficking has been described as a human rights abuse, a scourge, a serious public health concern. These descriptions are clearly shouting for social justice, but what do we really know about human trafficking? How do we define what is it and who it impacts? How does it impact its survivors both during and after the exploitation? How can we better assist survivors exiting human exploitation? These are some of the questions I ask in my research about human trafficking in Missouri and in the national and global contexts. While there are a myriad of descriptions, factoids, movies and posters that inform our understanding of the phenomenon, much of what we know is actually very limited. While our knowledge is rapidly becoming more sophisticated, the anti-trafficking movement still has much to learn about the prevalence and scope of the issue, characteristics of survivors and perpetrators, evidenced-based prevention and aftercare intervention development. These are just some of dominant conversations within the field of study and response. I will share with you recent studies I have conducted in the state of Missouri and general knowledge about the phenomenon. In this discussion we will conclude by teasing out some nuances of study that are badly needed to advance the field of human trafficking research leading to promising trauma-informed, evidenced-based anti-trafficking response.