The Criminalization of Black Survivors of Commercial Sex Trafficking

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The Criminalization of Black Survivors of Commercial Sex Trafficking

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Issue Area #5: Tools for a Victim-Centered Criminal Justice Response

Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the United States. Forty percent of trafficked individuals in the United States are African-American, despite only being 14 percent of the population. Equally as disturbing is that traffickers interviewed for an Urban Institute study overwhelmingly believed that trafficking white women would make them more money but trafficking black women would land them less jail time if caught. More recently, we are seeing in the news young black girls being criminalized for escaping dangerous sex trafficking situations. This presentation will review the disparities in how society responds to trafficked women of color, specifically Black survivors, and how we can create equal access to services and accountability.

The Criminalization of Black Survivors of Commercial Sex Trafficking

Issue Area #5: Tools for a Victim-Centered Criminal Justice Response

Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the United States. Forty percent of trafficked individuals in the United States are African-American, despite only being 14 percent of the population. Equally as disturbing is that traffickers interviewed for an Urban Institute study overwhelmingly believed that trafficking white women would make them more money but trafficking black women would land them less jail time if caught. More recently, we are seeing in the news young black girls being criminalized for escaping dangerous sex trafficking situations. This presentation will review the disparities in how society responds to trafficked women of color, specifically Black survivors, and how we can create equal access to services and accountability.


Teresa Stafford, Chief Advocacy Officer, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center
Teresa M. Stafford serves at the Chief Advocacy Officer at Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, the largest independent rape crisis center in the nation. As Chief Advocacy Officer, Teresa advocates for system change needed to create a climate that is trauma informed for all survivors. She provides support, consultation and training to staff and the community at large both locally and nationally. She provides expertise and consultation to communities developing their Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART), training to law enforcement agencies regarding the dynamics of sexual violence, human trafficking, intimate partner violence and working with survivors of sexual violence.