Survivors Speak About Struggle with Justice During COVID
Human trafficking survivors study reveals treatment discepencies and access barriers exacerbated due to COVID.
The National Survivor Law Collective (NSL Collective), an assembly of organizations focused on providing legal services to human trafficking survivors, completed a preliminary survey to gain understanding of survivors’ experiences and instigate a national conversation on their experiences in the justice system. Lockdowns, quarantines and social distancing have pushed the vulnerable into isolation and desperate circumstances. By necessity, legal services should adapt to overcome the barriers many are facing.
The survey anonymously collected information from 35 respondents, ranging from survivor-leaders across the country to survivors sharing their individual experiences. When personally seeking access to legal help, 36% reported positive, 46% reported neutral (or did not disclose), and 18% reported negative experiences. Barriers to access included fees, general unawareness of available options, mistrust and unavailability of lawyers, and inefficiency/complications within the application process. The collection of these barriers leaves victims facing “feelings of hopelessness regarding achieving justice in [their] case[s].”
With regards to the impact of COVID-19, 60% reported an increase in need for services and 0% indicated a decrease. While COVID-19 has swept across the nation, the implications are more severe for some with greater demand for social services across the board and the development of more complex legal cases involving landlords and criminal records. The lack of connection with others and home/travel restrictions has led to “isolation,” “addiction,” “mistrust,” and “confusion.” Technology has been added to the list of barriers to survivors safely accessing help.
The survey indicated a need for compassionate, trauma-informed, racially-sensitive, and optimistic lawyers as well as collaboration between psychology, sociology, and social work to more fully understand challenges faced by survivors. Read the full article here.
Founded in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Survivor Law Collective (NSL Collective) is composed of U.S. organizations focused on providing free legal services to victims and survivors of all forms of human trafficking, regardless of race, sex, religion, creed, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, alienage race, sexual orientation, disability, age, or any other legally-protected characteristic.
The Founding Members are:
ALIGHT (Alliance to Lead Impact in Global Human Trafficking), CO
Free to Thrive, CA
Justice Restoration Center, FL
Trafficking Law Center, OR
Moore & Van Allen Human Trafficking Pro Bono Project, NC
Paul Hastings LLP