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Post written by Lauryn Eason

Shared Hope International is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending sex trafficking via their three-pronged approached: prevent, restore, and bring justice.

Shared Hope offers training to first responders and citizens to help them recognize signs of trafficking and arm them with the tools to provide trauma informed care, preventing re-exploitation of survivors.

Shared Hope takes the next step in after-care by supporting safe homes, and providing therapy, vocational training, and other resources for survivors to assist in the restoration process of adapting to life after trafficking.

Lastly, Shared Hope pursues accountability by grading states on the strength of their laws addressing child sex trafficking to help lobbyists and legislators understand the importance of the issue and to provide practical, specific ways that allies can advocate for change in policy.

Statutory Protection of Victims

This semester, I have been consolidating state statutes (if there are any) that protect or exploit victims of child sexual abuse. My research will allow Shared Hope to provide legislative support and collaborative resources to equip advocates to effectively argue for necessary changes in the law.

Through this project, I have been surprised to learn that many states have no laws protecting victims of child sexual abuse or that there are limitations placed on the number of protections offered. For example, that in some states, children may be forced to sit across form their abuser as they give testimony of abuse in court. In many states, juvenile victims of trafficking may not be allowed to have their records expunged. This means that survivors will have a criminal record that will not doubt provoke questions when applying for jobs or as they begin or continue their education. Not only is a criminal record re-traumatizing for the survivor, but it also presents a barrier to reintegration. If a survivor of trafficking cannot find a decent paying job that will allow her to provide for herself, she is much more likely to return to her abuser.

However, things are changing; precedent is shifting. I have had the privilege to get a taste of this through my work with the Center as I have researched the changes in statutes as the age limit is expanding to protect more juveniles and as statutes are being amended and created to include the most vulnerable.

Human Rights Advocacy

The Lord is teaching me there is more work that goes into human rights advocacy than I thought. It is meticulous. I didn’t realize the absolute lack of legislation that protects children in this capacity. I am encouraged to know that there are so many nonprofit organizations and individuals willing to do the hard things, to share resources, and to work tirelessly until all are free. I have learned the value of non-profit organizations as they fill in the gaps that the government can’t or won’t, and they provide the support that other attorneys need but may not have the time or resources to access – and vice versa. I am learning just how necessary it is that Body works together with its different, gifts, connections, knowledge, passions, and resources. All parts are valuable, and the Lord is molding me to the place where I am meant to fit in each season.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Student Staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.