BEST has partnered with the Organization for Prostitution Survivors (OPS) and Goodwill Industries to begin providing employment training services for survivors of human trafficking and prostitution. We are pleased to see our first client enrolled in Goodwill’s Customer Service and Retail Training program.
CHANGING CULTURAL NORMS ONE EMPLOYER AT A TIME
The role of BEST in partnering with Goodwill will be to identify businesses to hire graduates of the Goodwill program. Dr. Smith met with a potential employer recently and encountered first-hand the challenges of placing survivors in safe jobs. The employer is an outstanding employer, known for hiring persons with a history of homelessness, drug addiction, or imprisonment. Yet because employees interface with the public, the employer has a policy that states that they do not hire persons with a record of violent crimes or sexual crimes.
People who have been charged with prostitution are penalized the same as sexual predators and those who commit violent crimes against prostituted children and women.
This employer is not alone. This unconscious bias is so incredibly common in law enforcement and in our society at large. We mistakenly believe that prostituted people are the threat.
In reality, with the average age of entry into prostitution around age 12-15 years old, most prostituted people enter ‘the life’ as victims. Prior to recent changes in our laws, these kids–these trafficking victims–could have been charged with prostitution, a charge that will haunt any attempts at future employment. After years of victimization, the barriers to exiting ‘the life’ are extremely high. This normally compassionate employer is one example of the high barriers that prostituted people face.
Thankfully, the director of human resources recognized the unfair dilemma that their policy poses and decided to re-think it. We are deeply grateful for this compassionate and reasonable response.
In reality, survivors of trafficking and prostitution can be outstanding employees. Mar recently spoke with one survivor whose first job out of ‘the life’ was cleaning hotel rooms. She was so capable that she worked her way up to become the Manager of Housekeeping at that hotel. She’s since changed careers and is an articulate, trustworthy, and capable woman who is now making an outstanding contribution to the community through her work in human services.
If you’re interested in employing populations at risk of trafficking or survivors of trafficking or prostitution, please contact us. We’d love to talk with you about opportunities to recruit capable employees who are grateful for safe employment and ready to work hard.