Thursday, March 29, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
When March 17th comes around, everyone feels a little more Irish. In light of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday, I decided to learn more about Ireland’s response to human trafficking. Through the European G6 Human Trafficking Initiative, which produces the Blue Blindfold Campaign, Ireland joins the UK, Poland, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands in a unified fight against trafficking.
In Ireland, victims of human trafficking are entitled to a 60 day “recovery and reflection” period, during which they are protected from deportation, but are not required to cooperate with law enforcement. As cited on the Blue Blindfold website, “If there is reasonable grounds to believe you are a suspected victim of the crime of human trafficking, you will get 60 days to recover and escape the influence of the trafficker. It will give you time to gather information and decide whether or not you want to help the Gardaí [local police] with their investigation into what happened to you.”1
Retelling the story of one’s victimization immediately after the trauma can pose as an immense challenge to survivors of trafficking. A 60 day recovery and reflection period recognizes that victims need to time in order to stabilize before being asked to rehash their story and experience the re-traumatization that this entails. After the 60 day recovery and reflection period, the victims may receive permission to lawfully remain in the country for periods of 6 months (renewable) if they cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers.
Blue Blindfold also states that authorities will only grant 60 days of recovery and reflection on the grounds that the suspected trafficking victim breaks all lines of contact with the accused trafficker. While this mandate seems logical to most, dropping communication can also be quite difficult. Studies have shown that trauma bonding—by which a victim develops strong, emotional ties to the perpetrator of physical, sexual, or emotional violence—is a common occurrence among trafficking victims.2 Clearly, with continuously emerging evidence regarding human trafficking, the global community is only beginning to understand the complexity of the issues and nuances regarding human trafficking. There is not yet one clear best response; however, as we all work towards alleviating the injustices of human trafficking victims, it is interesting to turn our attention to the work and efforts of those around us and across the pond.
Carly Loehrke, Program Development Intern
 Anti-Human Trafficking Unit. (n.d.). Guide to procedures for victims of human trafficking in Ireland (Department of Justice and Equality publication). Retrieved from http://www.blueblindfold.gov.ie/website/bbf/bbfweb.nsf/da0ca5e97401855180257355006068dd/84e94aaab6162f25802574c600529086/$FILE/Guide%20to%20Procedures%20for%20Victims%20of%20Trafficking.pdf
 National Human Trafficking Resource Center. (n.d.) Sex trafficking fact sheet. Retrieved from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking/about/fact_sex.pdf
Friday, March 9, 2012
Human trafficking cases have been prevalent in the media this past year. Most recently, America’s Most Wanted did a two hour special on a trafficker who was subsequently caught a week later. Raising awareness on these issues is vital to mobilization and no doubt such coverage has its positive effects.
For victims, however, sharing stories can be re-traumatizing. Much like when put on the stand to testify, public scrutiny on extremely intimate details of a traumatic experience can reopen old wounds. So where should we draw the line?
Safety is at the fore of our work at IOFA. Publishing details of victim experiences can undermine that safety, so I was intrigued when I saw an online guide for journalists that spoke to the issue. At IOFA we’d argue that proper trauma-informed training for police, journalists, and the like is critical in order to prevent harming victim recovery.
So, we’d like to pose the question back to you: survivor stories can sometimes invoke the most empathy, but are they doing more harm than good? What do you think?
Summar Ghias, Program Development Intern