It has been a decade since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 – the first comprehensive anti-trafficking law in the world. The law has a two-pronged purpose: to punish the perpetrators and to protect and assist the victims. To punish perpetrators we amended and passed a series of statutes in the U.S. criminal code prohibiting trafficking. This gave our law enforcement officials the tools to investigate, arrest, prosecute, and convict human traffickers. The U.S. passed our laws in the year 2000. Since then over seventy countries have followed suit.
But what about the second part of the law: to protect and assist victims? For the last ten years, most NGOs have been focused on rescuing victims, and on building shelters and setting up comprehensive sets of services to provide emergency food, clothing, shelter, and medical assistance. This short term emergency work with victims is part of what we call the “victim-centered approach” and it is crucial work, providing the first safe havens for victims to recover from what is often complete physical, mental, emotional and spiritual devastation at the hands of their exploiters.
Nomi Network emerges from this Rescue and Restore tradition, but with a different and astonishingly future-centered vision. What is different about Nomi? It works with market-forces (as opposed to charitable systems that may be necessary in crisis situations but are not sustainable over the long term) to help rehabilitate, restore victims and reintegrate them into mainstream society. Nomi’s social entrepreneur ventures identify job opportunities, train to create a skilled labor force with potential upward mobility, and connect up trafficking victims with these opportunities. Everyone deserves to enjoy the fruits their own labor. This is the new vision that Nomi brings to the human trafficking field. Join us!
Laura Lederer is a member of the Nomi Network Board of Directors and is currently Vice President for Policy and Planning at Global Centurion, an NGO working to stop child sexual slavery.