More services needed for victims of sex trafficking - Tucson News Now

More services needed for victims of sex trafficking

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Victims of sex trafficking said the U.S. needed to do a better job and provide more services for victims of sex trafficking, as the U.S. State Department released it's annual TIP (Trafficking in Persons Report for the year 2014.

The report lists a ranking of countries, and where they stand in terms of progress they have made to help stop trafficking in their countries.

This year the U.S. government singled out Thailand, Malaysia, The Gambia and Venezuela for taking insufficient action against human trafficking.

The four countries were downgraded to Tier 3, which is the lowest possible ranking it gives for a country's response to fighting modern-day slavery.

The report says there is evidence of forced labor and sex trafficking in Malaysia and Thailand. It highlights Malaysia's problem with migrants from other Asian nations who seek work on farms, factories and construction sites only to be trapped and have their passports taken and wages withheld.

In Thailand, the report says, tens of thousands of migrants from neighboring countries are being exploited in the commercial sex industry, on fishing boats or as domestic servants.

And in Venezuela, women and girls are often lured from poor interior regions to tourist centers with the promise of false job offers. When they arrive, they are often forced into prostitution.

Leaders in Thailand reacted to the report by saying they disagreed with the claims, and they had done a good job of addressing modern-day slavery in their nation.

The U.S. is listed as a Tier One country, but many local survivors of sex trafficking say, even here at home, there's a lot more work that needs to be done.

Thanks to efforts made by local police, prosecutors, and advocacy groups many women had been able to get out of the dark world of sexual slavery and prostitution.

Beth Jacobs, a survivor of human trafficking said getting out was not easy.  Even now, thirty years later, Jacobs was still struggling to get a job, or get an apartment in her own name.

"People don't choose this. I didn't wake up one morning and say, hey I'll be a prostitute. It's a great career choice.  It doesn't happen that way," said Jacobs.

She said many women and men who had gotten out of that world were haunted by criminal charges they had racked up in different states.

Jacobs was trafficked in several states.  She was still fighting to clear twenty prostitution charges racked up in the state of Illinois.

Jacobs said she was working with a law firm in Los Angeles to draft legislation that would help victims in Arizona.

She also said victims needed counseling services and housing.  Right now there were not enough agencies that provided those services to victims of trafficking.

You can read the full TIP report at http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/

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