Human trafficking is a horrific crime that continues to affect communities across South Carolina. In response to the issue, the Office of the South Carolina Attorney General works tirelessly to prosecute traffickers, protect victims, and prevent the crime from happening.
Human trafficking occurs when an individual, under force, fraud, or coercion, is made to perform commercial sex acts or forced labor, or when the individual induced to perform sex acts is under 18 years of age. For human trafficking to happen, something of value must be given, promised, or received by any person. Traffickers constantly seek opportunities to exploit their victims for profit. While traffickers abuse people of all backgrounds, groups with preexisting vulnerabilities, such as foster care youth, low-income individuals, and foreign nationals, are increasingly at-risk for victimization.
The complex and insidious approaches that traffickers use to exploit victims demand a multi-sector and multidisciplinary response. To meet this need, the South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force, chaired by the Office of the South Carolina Attorney General, was legislatively mandated in 2012 to lead a strategic approach to combat human trafficking and to supplement the existing prosecutorial work of the Office. Below are the combined anti-human trafficking initiatives of the Criminal Prosecution Division and the State Task Force.
Determining the Magnitude of Human Trafficking in South Carolina
Through the State Task Force’s Data & Research Subcommittee and in partnership with Task Force members throughout South Carolina, the Task Force is working to quantify the magnitude of the crime. This project is vital to understanding the nature of human trafficking in South Carolina’s communities and developing the most effective response to it.
Protecting, Supporting, and Serving Victims of Human Trafficking
Through the State Task Force, the Office works to train first responders, medical professionals, labor agencies, and victim advocacy groups to be able to recognize the signs of human trafficking. This training is crucial to improving victim identification efforts. The State Task Force also supports efforts for the continued development of shelter spaces that meet the unique needs of human trafficking victims and survivors. Furthermore, the Task Force works diligently to ensure that these programs provide victim-centered, trauma-informed services that align with best and emerging practices in the field.
Investigating and Prosecuting Human Traffickers
In addition to prosecuting human traffickers, the Office continues to identify and disseminate resources to support the investigative efforts of law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges. The State Task Force also developed a Strategic Response Model that positions law enforcement to utilize a network composed of federal, state, and local points of contact to increase the efficiency and success of investigations.
Preventing Human Trafficking in South Carolina
Through the State Task Force, the Office develops public awareness initiatives across South Carolina to ensure that communities statewide are informed and aware of the crime and its complexities. Through presentations and unique trainings, the Task Force works to educate law enforcement and prosecutors regarding rules and regulations in the state.
Additional Focus Areas
In addition to the aforementioned projects, the State Task Force is working to increase efforts to support providers working with foreign national victims, expand emergency support systems, grow educational opportunities for youth, engage interfaith communities, and ultimately, increase state capacity to serve victims and survivors while prosecuting traffickers.