This Is How 'Hope for Justice' Is Combatting Modern-day Slavery In The United States

Oct 27, 2016 by Will Maule

Dave Rogers was a federal criminal investigator for more than 23 years, and oversaw the FBI’s Human Trafficking program within the Civil Rights Unit. He is now the US program director of global anti-trafficking charity Hope for Justice. Here, he explains why the charity’s work is so vital.

Human trafficking is almost certainly happening in your community. It is modern-day slavery and it is not a far-away problem – it’s being uncovered in the US in every state.

But what does ‘trafficking’ mean? It means forcing someone to work against their will. Legally, we speak about it in three ways: sex trafficking; labor trafficking; and domestic servitude. The key to all trafficking, though, is not the work the victims are doing. Rather, it is the conditions under which they have to work: through some type of force, fraud or coercion. They might be forced to sell sexual acts, or to work as a waiter or a nanny or a landscaper, in a nail salon or a factory. Most victims are female and most traffickers are male, but not exclusively. Reliable and authoritative numbers do not exist, but every study suggests its presence here is endemic, and you may be surprised to learn that most victims identified in the US are US citizens, not foreigners.

Rescuing victims, restoring lives and reforming society

It is an evil crime, profiting from human misery and taking people’s freedom in humiliating and often barbaric ways.

That’s why Hope for Justice exists. We are committed to the elimination of modern-day slavery and we see it as our mission to intervene directly – rescuing victims, restoring lives and reforming society. We were founded on Christian principles and our organization is based on Christian values, and we work with everyone who can help us achieve our vision of living in a world free from slavery. Many, but by no means all, of our staff come from a church background and all staff are expected to work in a way that reflects core values of respect, tolerance, passion for justice and appreciation of the value of individuals.

We are victim-focused, but we are also committed to ensuring traffickers are brought to justice.

When I learned about trafficking, I mentally ‘replayed’ my career and realized I had certainly arrested trafficking victims. I had not been trained to spot the signs that were, in hindsight, right in front of me. From that moment, I realized I never wanted another person to miss the signs that are visible, right in front of them. It requires changing the prism through which we view the world around us. That is part of what drives my passion as an abolitionist today.

When I retired from the FBI, I came to work for Hope for Justice because I strongly believe that this approach works.

Law enforcement cannot do this alone

In the US, we at Hope for Justice work as specialist consultants working to investigate all types of human trafficking matters with law enforcement or independently from them, depending upon the wishes of the victims. We will also need to partner with victim service providers to ensure the best possible aftercare is provided to victims we encounter. We deliver awareness training to professionals and the public to facilitate the rescue and restoration of as many victims as possible.

Partnership is important, because law enforcement cannot do this all on its own. Few investigators get specifically assigned to trafficking; their priorities are too dispersed and they are not all trained to spot the signs. Similarly, most victims do not trust law enforcement, at least initially. We work to bridge that gap.

Global mission

But our US operations are just one element of our global mission. Right now, our colleagues in the UK are out in force rescuing modern-day slaves from the most dire situations of suffering and despair; our Cambodia team are working with girls freed from sex trafficking who are seeking to rebuild their lives with our specialist support, in our restorative care homes; our office in Norway is engaging more and more partners to bolster our cause and raise awareness, and so on.

Around the world, the best estimates suggest 21 million people are being held or forced to work in conditions amounting to modern slavery. It is an affront to our shared values, and we need people to stand up and join us and do something about it.

Check out more about the work of Hope For Justice here.

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