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Land of the free still home to slaves

"Land of the free still home to slaves" Continued...

But not enough resources, funding and effort are pooled to combat this crime on a broader scope, said Kay Buck, executive director of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), an organization that helped push Prop 35 into law. A July 2012 report showed that the U.S. government spends about $100 million a year against human trafficking, compared to the $15 billion it spends on the drug war. “Clearly, efforts to prevent trafficking and assist victims need more support,” Buck said. She applauded Royce’s FORTE Act, but recommended further protection for other visas, transparency in businesses, and more social services. 

The war of human trafficking doesn’t end with a long-term prison sentence for the perpetrators. The victims’ healing process is long-term, Buck said, emphasizing the need for more mental health services. She specified the importance of a faith-based support system. She’s seen vast improvements in survivors who had someplace to go every Sunday and received consistent mentorship: “That’s the kind of service that’s really necessary.”

Phelps said the biggest challenge for human and sex trafficking survivors is the ability to realize that their condition is wrong and create a new identity. “I want to tell fellow survivors that they are in the land of the free. They are not slaves,” she later told reporters. “Recovery is a long process … but compassion in small ways helped me build back my life.”

Sophia Lee
Sophia Lee

Sophia is a features reporter for WORLD Magazine. She graduated from the University of Southern California with degrees in print journalism and East Asian language and culture. She lives in Los Angeles with her cat, Shalom. Follow Sophia on Twitter @SophiaLeeHyun.


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