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11-Sep-2015 12:56

During their first contacts with law enforcement, victims are likely experiencing serious physical and psychological harms and injuries resulting from their exploitation.

A police officer at a mall is approached by a frantic and scared young woman running from a store that sells provocative women's clothing. citizen and is being beaten by a pimp who is forcing her to prostitute herself in motels throughout the area.

She asks for help and says she's being held against her will. An anti-trafficking hotline receives a call from a man who says he has just been to a brothel, where he met a Central American woman who cried and said she was afraid the brothel operators would hurt her family in her home country if she did not prostitute.

In fact, to date, at least 39 states have passed sex trafficking laws.

As in all human trafficking cases, our goal is to identify the victims so that we can not only punish the traffickers, but also help restore the lives of those the traffickers have harmed.

Law enforcement and our nongovernment-organization partners most often see cases in which pimps coerce women and girls, both U. Although great strides have been made in combating sex trafficking, we can and must do a better job of identifying victims of this crime.

Human trafficking is a serious federal civil rights crime and combating it is a top priority of not only the U. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the federal government as a whole, but also of many state and local governments.

Such severe facts and corresponding punishments confirm that sex traffickers are, indeed, engaged in modern-day slavery.

Editor's Note: This article is derived from a presentation given by the author at the U. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Fourth National Human Trafficking Conference in Atlanta, Ga., in September 2008.

The National Institute of Justice participated in the conference, which was funded in part by components of DOJ, including the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Office for Victims of Crime.

The caller says the brothel is next to a migrant labor community and the women in the brothel are undocumented and afraid of being deported.

This is sex trafficking, and these women are its victims.[1] If properly identified, investigated and prosecuted, the traffickers in these examples face 15 years minimum mandatory imprisonment and up to a life term in federal prison.

DOJ and the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit now have more than eight years' experience identifying and helping sex trafficking victims.We have learned from our successes and our failures and have identified some promising practices for: Common to all these practices is our reliance on a victim-centered investigation and prosecution model, which recognizes that the victims of sex trafficking are often traumatized.