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Sex trafficking is a form of slavery and involuntary servitude resulting in grave human rights violations. Minnesota was a place of origin, transit, and destination for sex trafficking operations even before federal or state law defined the crime of “sex trafficking.” In September 2008, The Advocates for Human Rights published the Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment Report at the request of the State of Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force. The Report focuses on trafficking of persons for commercial sexual exploitation or prostitution as defined in federal law and Minnesota law. The qualitative research conducted by The Advocates compliments data by the Minnesota Office of Justice Programs documenting 731 sex trafficking cases in the three-year period from 2005 to 2008.
Using a human rights framework, the Report examines the government response to this issue at the local, state, tribal and federal levels; identifies facilities and services currently available to trafficking victims in Minnesota; assesses their effectiveness; and makes recommendations for coordinating services to better meet the needs of sex trafficking victims statewide. The findings of the Report are based on interviews with 175 individuals throughout Minnesota, including representatives of the criminal justice system, health-care providers, service providers, and other stakeholders regarding their knowledge of and experience with trafficked persons.
Minnesota has a unique history of confronting various forms of commercial sexual exploitation, including sex trafficking, through grassroots activism and innovative legal reform. Despite the increased attention to this problem in recent years, however, The Advocates has found that the response of law enforcement is often ineffective and the needs of trafficked person remain unmet. This report includes findings and recommendations which address the barriers to an effective response to sex trafficking so as to better meet the needs of trafficked individuals, and to hold traffickers accountable for the crimes they have committed.
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