NDRN Launches New Human Trafficking Project

A hand with the word STOP and the word Trafficking below

by Andy Jones
February 6, 2017

The National Disability Rights Network announced a new collaboration February 1, aiming to end the ­­human trafficking of people with disabilities.

“The fact that human trafficking occurs within our borders and around the world is disgraceful,” said NDRN Executive Director Curt Decker said in a news release. “NDRN looks forward to working closely with the (Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center) to assist the (Protection & Advocacy) system and human trafficking advocates prevent the trafficking of persons with disabilities.”

To start the partnership, NDRN and HT Pro Bono signed a memorandum of understanding. Among the goals set forth in the MOU, the advocacy groups agreed to “develop several trainings, create materials, and engage in other projects to raise awareness and to prevent the trafficking of persons with disabilities,” according to the news release.

In April 2016, HT Pro Bono released a fact sheet, titled “Trafficking of Persons with Disabilities in the United States," that spotlighted a number of high profile cases of trafficking of people with disabilities, many of whom were targeted by people seeking to steal their Social Security and disability benefits.

In the most prominent recent example, a civil jury handed down in 2013 a $240 million judgment against Henry’s Turkey Service, an Iowa-based farm that held 32 people with intellectual disabilities for decades in forced labor, while syphoning off their benefits.

“Our research has shown that people with disabilities are particularly at risk for trafficking into both forced prostitution and forced labor. Cases involving this type of abuse are on the rise,” HT Pro Bono President Martina Vandenberg said in the news release. “This partnership seeks to reverse that trend, alerting both communities to the risks of trafficking for those with disabilities. All trafficking survivors must have access to justice.”

Disability Rights Washington is the designated protection and advocacy agency in Washington and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.