“ There are few violations more degrading to the dignity of the individual, and few offenses more intolerable in a nation founded on liberty, than the crime of human trafficking, which denies some of the most vulnerable members of our society their most basic rights to freedom and self-determination. Human traffickers know no boundaries or borders, and their crimes cruelly exploit men, women, and children; citizens, guestworkers, and undocumented migrants; extracting profit from the toil of others in farm fields and factories, strip clubs and suburban mansions, brothels and bars.” (1)
The passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, (TVPA) in 2000, and its subsequent reauthorizations, (TVPRA) empowered United States prosecutors to go after human trafficking, sex trafficking and forced labor cases in ways not seen before.
The results are more robust prosecutions, better services for victims and long prison terms for criminal traffickers.
Before passage of TVPA, less then 10 human trafficking cases were prosecuted a year. Since passage, that number has steadily increased and in 2010, 52 cases were prosecuted. Most recently, in 2012, Alex Campbell, an Illinois native who abused, terrorized and extorted women from Ukraine and Belarus, was handed a life sentence.
Local law enforcement are now being trained to recognize that a “prostitute” may be a sex trafficking victim who needs help, and not arrest. And that a pimp, who brutalizes victims, steals their money, limits their freedom can be charged as a trafficker.
To successfully bring these cases to trial, prosecutors require evidence. Much of that evidence is witness/victim testimony. But there is hard evidence as well.
Nina Berman peeled back the layers of several successfully prosecuted cases across the United States, to photograph crime scenes, survivors and the evidence used to convict. She received unprecedented access and cooperation from the United States Department of Justice, Homeland Security Investigations, and local law enforcement.
The result is “Evidence” a photographic documentation of the crime of modern day slavery.
This feature is part of the group project Modern Day Slavery by NOOR, which is supported by Lexis Nexis International.
1. Report on the Tenth Anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act
United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, October 29, 2010