Human & Sex Trafficking Lawyers for Victims of Abuse in Pennsylvania
Slavery has long been viewed as abhorrent but human trafficking is the modern-day version of it – and it’s happening right here in America.
Most people would be horrified to learn the extent to which the trafficking of women and girls occurs around the country. In many cases, it’s happening in their own local communities and they are just not aware of it.
According to The National Human Trafficking Resource Center, human trafficking cases have been reported in all 52 states and territories.
It may even be happening in your local hotels, bars, nightclubs, casinos, and other entertainment establishments. Unless these establishments are brought to account, the practice will continue.
If you are a victim of trafficking or are aware of suspicious behavior that might lead authorities to the perpetrators, speak to the human trafficking lawyers at Andreozzi & Foote for a free and confidential consultation.
UPDATE: HB 963 to extend the statute of limitations on sexual abuse
What’s being done to battle human trafficking?
A number of federal and state regulations have been introduced in the past two decades to help battle human trafficking.
As awareness of the scale of the issue has grown, the anti-trafficking movement has worked to pressurize governments for legislation to assist and protect victims and to hold traffickers responsible for their crimes.
The federal government established the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000. This was the first act of its kind to introduce increased penalties for human trafficking crimes and special assistance programs for victims.
The Act has been updated repeatedly. The latest amendment was in 2013 with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Additional legislation, such as the 2019 Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), has severely restricted online advertisements and made it more difficult for sex traffickers to profit from their crimes.
As well as enhancing the criminal penalties against traffickers, this legislation allowed victims of human trafficking to pursue civil cases against those who benefited from the crime – meaning both the traffickers and any businesses that knowingly profited.
Some states, such as New York, have introduced and upheld strict laws but others have lagged behind or failed to follow through with serious action, despite passing laws.
Consequently, while the legislation has had some successes, much more could be done.
Victim assistance can be difficult to obtain and the federal government is reliant upon the state governments to pursue action against the traffickers – but without a coordinated national system.
Pursuing cases is greatly dependent on the priorities of each individual state. While prosecutions have increased in recent years, human trafficking continues to impact victims around the country.
This is where lawyers can play our part in holding the perpetrators accountable and in seeking justice for victims.
Together with advocacy groups, such as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, we are now on the frontline of the fight against human trafficking.
Human trafficking and commercial businesses
An often-overlooked aspect of human trafficking cases is the complicity of certain commercial businesses in the practice, which knowingly facilitate profit-taking from it.
Trafficking is a highly lucrative business. It should not be surprising that other legitimate businesses indirectly gain from it, as unpalatable as the practice is to most of us.
In order to profit from trafficking, the perpetrators need businesses to transport, hide and accommodate the victims. Hotels and motels are often used for sexual exploitation.
In fact, the hospitality industry as a whole is one of the main profiteers from the human trafficking trade.
Since 2008, the law has allowed victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse to hold accountable any businesses that directly or indirectly support it.
Namely, any businesses that “knowingly benefit from their participation in what they knew or should have known was a [sex trafficking venture]” can now be held accountable.
This law, known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) effectively allows survivors to recover damages from businesses via civil claims.
The TVPRA also makes it easier for law enforcement and prosecutors to push for justice by providing stronger identification, prosecution, and sentencing tools.
This law is a massive step forward for victims of trafficking.
How does the hospitality industry make money from trafficking?
Many business owners in the hospitality industry have followed an “ask no questions” policy. They believe that if they don’t ask questions, they cannot be accused of failing to act against suspicious or criminal behavior.
It is no longer acceptable to “look the other way” with human trafficking.
Since the TVPRA was enacted, businesses that make money directly or indirectly from human trafficking can be held liable by victims.
Hospitality is one of the primary beneficiaries of the trafficking trade. Hotels and motels are targeted by traffickers looking to take advantage of the privacy and anonymity afforded guests.
Some other types of hospitality businesses that benefit include:
- Sporting venues
- Theme parks
- Cruise ships
Even with stricter advertising laws, the traffickers are generally a step ahead of the authorities and always find ways to promote their illegal services.
Victims of trafficking are often held in slave-like conditions and not allowed to leave the hotel or motel room.
This may happen without the knowledge of the venue’s employees despite tell-tale signs that exploitation is taking place. If the business is aware of these signs and takes no action, it could be accused of negligence by victims under the TVPRA.
What are the tell-tale signs of human trafficking in the hospitality industry?
Reducing human trafficking requires education at all levels, especially in the businesses that traffickers use for their crimes.
There are different signs to be on the lookout for depending on your particular role within the hospitality industry. Details of these are provided by Homeland Security and summarized below:
Hotel and motel employees
Look out for individuals who:
- Show signs of poor hygiene, fatigue, malnourishment, sleep deprivation, untreated illness, or injuries
- Appear to be constantly monitored or lack the freedom to come and go
- Dress inappropriately for their age
- Do not possess any money or ID
Housekeeping, room service, and maintenance employees
Look out for individuals who:
- Request housekeeping services such as towels, linens, etc. but do not allow entry to the room
- Possess multiple cell phones, computers, credit card swipers, or other technology related to trafficking
- Have extended stays with few personal possessions
- Leave large amounts of sex paraphernalia in their room, such as lubricants, condoms, etc.
Concierge, bellman, front desk, security & valet employees
Look out for individuals who:
- Reserve multiple rooms under the one name
- Rent the room hourly, for less than a day or for long-term stays that do not appear normal
- Sell items to or beg from patrons or staff
- Regularly park their car backward in the parking lot to hide the license plate
Food & beverage staff
Look out for individuals who:
- Loiter and solicit male patrons
- Wait at a table or bar and are picked up by a male (trafficker or customer)
- Ask staff or patrons for food or money
- Take cash or receipts left on tables
How to speak up and help stop human trafficking
Victims who are able to speak out and share their stories may see justice served in their own case and also help save other lives.
We can help, starting with a free and confidential consultation with one of the human trafficking attorneys at Andreozzi & Foote.
Rest assured that all the information you provide will be treated confidentially, including your identity.
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When you and your child are victims of a horrid crime it’s hard to understand why things are the way they are. Information and answers are what you want, but unfortunately the system doesn’t offer that. Nathaniel has fielded and patiently listened to a broken mother wanting nothing more than for someone to help her understand why she has no answers, and through these phone calls Nathaniel has been very informative, honest and upfront. I would recommend Nathaniel and this firm to anyone who is seeking answers, help and professionalism in a firm when going through such difficult times.
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