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County Attorney's perspective: Partnerships crucial to protect trafficking victims

Jan 24

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1/24/2014 9:00 AM  RssIcon

Just a few years ago, when a child trafficked as a prostitute was caught, she or he was treated as a juvenile delinquent. Not so anymore in Minnesota.

“We need to recognize that children involved in prostitution are victims of commercial sexual exploitation and abuse, not perpetrators of delinquent acts,” said County Attorney Mark Rubin, who has been an early and vocal supporter of changing trafficking legislation. “The sexual violence and torture these children suffer at the hands of pimps and traffickers has devastating mental and physical consequences, and we must do our utmost to help them.”

Working with PAVSA (Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault, AICHO (American Indian Community Housing Organization), the City of Duluth, and the Minnesota Women’s Foundation the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office has been an active participant in efforts to protect the safety of young girls and women by increased public awareness and support for the regional and statewide anti-sex trafficking efforts. 

Particular focus is now being placed on the support and counseling available to victims when they come forward. Advocates say more tools are needed to help victims – often runaways who in desperation befriended the person who ends up trafficking them – and keep them safe.

“We want that victim to know that there is community support and that we're going to do the best job possible if he or she is willing to step forward, tell what had happened - not just to an advocate, or a friend - but tell law enforcement,” said Rubin.” Then, our job is to keep them on board and give them the community support that they deserve.

“Victims of crime rarely trust the system,” Rubin said. “The first question a victim will ask law enforcement or a prosecutor is, ‘Will you keep me safe?’”

That’s why strong partnerships between law enforcement, the justice system and organizations like PAVSA and AICHO are so important – to provide a safe place and other services to those caught up in this devastating crime.
 
"It is only through the collaboration with our outstanding partners that we can rescue our youth from this scourge and provide safety and supportive shelter and counseling for them,” said Rubin. “Working together, we are then able to prosecute the cases and hold the offenders accountable for their actions".

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Re: County Attorney's perspective: Partnerships crucial to protect trafficking victims

It is surprising how many of these cases were actually running into now days. Children have more access to exploiting other children and kids in middle school are gaining access to inappropriate websites which draws them in with the promise of money and power. This alone shows that it is not the juvenile's responsibility but ours in keeping our kids safe. Interesting article and I appreciate your perspective.

By David Ryder on   1/27/2014 6:05 PM

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Dana Kazel
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Dana Kazel 
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