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Blogs and Opinion Interviews from the United States: risks after exploitation for women and girls

Interviews from the United States: risks after exploitation for women and girls

To mark International Women’s Day, we have interviewed our team on the ground in the United States to find out about the specific barriers that women and girls face to re-entering society after being exploited. Staff who work directly with survivors of modern-day slavery and human trafficking have shared their experiences with us.

In the United States, Kayla, our Community Outreach and Training Specialist, and Maris, our Clinical Lead, have identified the main obstacles for survivors after exploitation. They include associated healthcare and childcare costs; challenges finding living wage employment; the costs of continuing education; finding and maintaining safe and stable affordable housing; limited employment options; and a lack of financial stability.

For survivors, finding their footing financially can be a significant challenge. From clearing fines and eviction records, paying probation or court fees, or trying to restabilize their credit scores, this can resurface the cycle of poverty that could make them vulnerable to re-exploitation.

Additionally, sexual exploitation can cause long-term implications on reproductive systems which can become very expensive. This was identified as mainly being an issue for women and girls. Currently, 80% of survivors face re-exploitation in the United States if they don’t receive the appropriate aftercare and support. Certain vulnerabilities can heighten the risk of exploitation including poverty, homelessness, being part of the LGBTQ+ community, substance dependence, and other socioeconomic factors including race, age, and gender.

In the United States, there are community programs that support survivors but there are challenging referral processes for survivors to navigate to gain access to them. Furthermore, a lack of awareness on a community level of what support services are available for survivors and how to access them can mean that these services are underused and thus can be at risk of losing their funding.

Closing support services like this directly impacts survivors who need it most. This could cause harm to survivors like Izzy*. Izzy had been exploited in her local community and was at high risk of re-exploitation as she was living on the streets. Izzy didn’t feel safe in her local area anymore due to her exploitation, so she was transferred to a different state to start a new life with the aid of a year-long support program that included counselling groups, medical health stabilization, aid with improving her credit score and her overall financial stability. Providing long-term support and care to survivors reduces the risk of re-exploitation.

Hope for Justice is proud to be supported by women’s clubs across the United States

From interviewing our program specialists in the United States, we’ve been able to delve into the barriers that exist for survivors of modern slavery, and especially those that exist for women and girls.

Learn more about our anti-trafficking work in the United States:

Learn more about what improvements are needed to help survivors overcome these barriers: How to reduce barriers for women and girls after exploitation

*Name changed to protect survivor’s identity.

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