U.S. courts deny trafficking victims lost wages: study

Stella Dawson

WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Most victims of sex and labour trafficking in the United States fail to get any back pay, despite a U.S. law requiring courts to order convicted traffickers to pay their lost wages, a new study has found.

Sex trafficking victims are the least likely to win any monetary award, even if prosecutors petition the judge, and are awarded far less money than labour victims, according to the review of cases by the law firm Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP.

Overall, courts ordered compensation in just 36 percent of trafficking cases, meaning that payment was the exception rather than the rule even though it is mandatory under U.S. law.

Labour victims were awarded $228,939 on average, while sex trafficking victims - who were far more numerous and whose services were far more valuable to traffickers - received $151,076.

“These findings are extremely troubling,” said Martina Vandenberg, president of Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center, who co-authored the report.

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