Services for Trafficking Victims
Each year, nearly 14,500 to 17,500 peoplemostly women and childrenare trafficked into the United States for the purposes of forced labor, forced prostitution, and other forms of modern-day slavery. Most victims are subjected to psychological coercion and physical abuse ranging from verbal threats and abuse to starvation, rape, and torture. In October 2000, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to combat trafficking in persons and to protect victims. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2001, OVC funded the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division to assist victims of severe forms of trafficking by providing emergency services when those services are not available from another source.
In FY 2002, Congress appropriated $10 million to the U.S. Department of Justice to fund a trafficking victim services grant program. OVC developed and began administering the Services for Trafficking Victims Discretionary Grant Program, which made funding available to states, Indian tribes, units of local government, and nonprofit victim service organizations for the development, expansion, and strengthening of services for trafficking victims. The authorizing legislation also provided for research, evaluation, training, and technical assistance.
OVC awarded 12 discretionary grants in February 2003: eight of these grants support comprehensive services to trafficking victims in a specific state or region, including medical treatment, food and shelter, vocational and English-language training, mental health counseling, case management, and legal support; three of the grants support specialized services for trafficking victims in larger multistate areas; and one grant supports training and technical assistance for other grantees. OVC also transferred funds to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to evaluate this demonstration program. The NIJ evaluation is focusing on three sites.
In December 2003, Congress continued to support help for trafficking victims by passing the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. This act further protects victims by
- Allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to consider statements from state and local law enforcement officials as a way to meet a statutory requirement showing that victims have "been willing to assist in the investigation and prosecution of state and local crimes" involving severe forms of trafficking.
- Establishing a senior policy operating group to share grant information.
- Increasing the Department of Justice's authorization for appropriation for FY 2004 and FY 2005 to provide grants for states and localities, and authorizing additional funding for training at international law enforcement academies.
- Prohibiting the use of appropriated funds to "promote, support, or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution."
Also in December 2003, OVC released a competitive solicitation for the development and provision of comprehensive services for trafficking victims in unserved and underserved geographic areas. OVC made 10 awards to victim service providers in July 2004.