There are many other steps that can and must be taken to reverse the centuries of sexual, legal, and social exploitation that have made American Indian women and girls vulnerable to sex traffickers. More research is urgently needed into the scope and nature of this phenomenon. Local and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors need to receive intensive training in victim identification and cultural competency, with specific attention to the role of generational trauma in Native communities. And the federal government must actively seek to modify the foreign victim paradigm by increasing public awareness of domestic victims and ensuring that prosecutors prioritize domestic trafficking.
It is incredibly important that efforts to combat American Indian sex trafficking are begun and fostered by tribal communities. The significant role that silence and denial has played in generational abuse and sex trafficking can only be addressed and overcome by Native communities themselves. Native leaders must take the initiative in raising awareness of sex trafficking and crafting culturally specific legal and victim services. Imposing official government superstructures that further leech tribal authority risks leading to additional victimization. At the same time, federal support, particularly financial, is crucial to the success of these community-based efforts. As the government re-evaluates its anti-trafficking efforts in 2012, it can no longer overlook the devastating legacy of sexual exploitation within its own borders. U.S. anti-trafficking efforts must be reshaped to take account of the American Indian domestic trafficking victim; otherwise, the perfect storm will rage on.
. J.D. Candidate 2012, Columbia Law School.
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