Understanding the Impact

Human traffickers thrive during crises

Every crisis makes people more vulnerable to labor and sex trafficking because of the disruptions to daily life – whether it is the loss of a home, job or access to health care or being unable to connect with support networks of friends and co-workers. These disruptions are especially devastating to those who are already vulnerable and hanging on financially. They become desperate for any way to earn money and survive.

As one trafficking survivor said recently, “Before COVID-19, we were ‘low-wage, low-skilled’ workers, but now, we are ‘essential.’”

However, this new label, “essential,” has not resulted in better pay or job security — quite the opposite, and this is where traffickers can enter the picture.

Trends in Human Trafficking and COVID-19

  • Police and child protection reports are down
  • Risks to online exploitation higher – especially for youth
  • Traffickers isolate victims
  • Travel is restricted
  • Millions out of work
  • Economic challenges greater for women, minorities and under-resourced populations
  • Higher than average unemployment, evictions and displacements
  • Options limited if survivors are exposed to or have COVID-19
  • Justice system impacts


Very Young Girls is an exposé of the commercial sexual exploitation of girls in New York City as they are sold on the streets by pimps and treated as adult criminals by police. The film identifies hope for these girls in the organization GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services), a recovery agency. The showing will be followed by a panel discussion.


Human Trafficking and the Justice System: Emerging Issues and Taking Action

Human trafficking law and policy experts will explore a wide range of topics and focus on how we, as a community, can engage more fully to see just and fair outcomes in trafficking cases. They will answer the question: What can we all do to bring a “full cup of justice” to trafficking survivors and ensure that all in the justice system are informed and aware of the prevalence of human trafficking and its impacts on clients and cases.