As my normal work has dwindled down to a slight sputter (whenever the mood strikes for work - not mine, theirs), I have had time and energy to put into my extra-curricular activities. As some of you may know, I took a volunteer training for my local Victim Services agency last spring, and have been working as a volunteer victim advocate on our local sexual assault crisis line for about six months now. I love love love helping these people. I can't describe the wonderful feeling that comes after a successful intervention.
Anyway, through my Victim Services training and meetings, I have gotten to know some great people. Two of the individuals I met, run an organization called Mission 21. Mission 21 is an anti-human trafficking organization focused on making survivors out of children entrapped in the sex trafficking industry. In addition, they make a point of educating the community on the signs, dangers, and all other aspects of the industry.
With that said, I am frustrated. M21's founders have been working with local government and courts to encourage that prostitutes arrested in our community, on their first offense, are treated as victims. We recently hit a large roadblock, in that the County Attorney's office has informed the organization that they are not on board with this type of treatment unless the defendant (prostitute) is willing to testify against her trafficker (pimp).
I have a hard time seeing the fair application of justice in this policy. A first time prostitution arrest in MN is classified as a Misdemeanor. Why would you not immediately offer a diversion program? Funding? funding is provided by the diversion program. Consequences for actions? The most is a 30 day jail stint, where the woman is not beaten and raped by her pimp - positive if you ask most.
I guess I'm on the search for advice and knowledge as I begin researching protocols throughout the country and world for dealing with victims of human trafficking. Our international laws essentially let the victim have a 45-90 day "cooling off" period before requiring her to decide if she will testify against her pimp. For domestic victims, at least here, they are not given any time to "cool off" or explore their options. It enrages me.
As I finish off for today, I would like to end with an awesome principle from Dale Carnigie's How to Win Friends and Influence People: I refuse to fret that God did not equally distribute intelligence.
I will just keep telling myself that, as I wade through local government to reach a fair and progressive result for the victims I advocate for.