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Report Finds That Raids Are Not an Effective Tool Against Human Trafficking
Date:1/9/2009

trusts me or her case worker."

Celia, one of the women interviewed for the report, was arrested seven times by local police without ever being screened for trafficking. "These raids are ugly and horrible. They ... bang on the door, they break the door, they come in with the guns out!" she told researchers. "It's really horrible, sometimes if they are very angry, they don't let you get dressed. ... One never lets go of the fear. Being afraid never goes away. They provoke that."

Jin, another study participant who was forced into prostitution, was arrested following a raid and sentenced to six months of incarceration before her defense attorney identified her as trafficked. She described being pistol-whipped and strip searched during a brothel raid:

"[A] police officer struck me in the back of the head with the back of a gun and I fell to the floor and I passed out. At the time I didn't know what was going on...I had no idea they were police when they all broke in. The ones that came in were not wearing uniforms. ... a female officer ... opened up my skirt and revealed my undergarments in front of everyone to see if I was hiding anything on me."

Police practices experienced by trafficked women were consistent with those reported by sex workers who did not self-identify as trafficked, as documented in a report released last year by Different Avenues, a DC-based organization. DC's approach to policing sex work is promoted in federal anti-trafficking legislation championed by Vice-President Elect Joe Biden and passed at the end of the last legislative session. According to Different Avenues, brothel raids and heightened policing of sex work in the nation's capital have pushed the industry further underground, driving people who may have been coerced into prostitution further from help.

This research suggests that raids should be reconsidered as a response to trafficking. As Jin put it, "
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SOURCE Urban Justice Center
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