What is a Multisector Response?

(The following is an excerpt from my book, The Essential Abolitionist: What you need to know about human trafficking & modern slavery (2016). Beginning on January 11th, every other day I’ll be posting excerpts from my book to help readers learn more about this issue during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The Essential Abolitionist answers the most often-asked questions about human trafficking, and the response to modern slavery.)


A multisector (or multidisciplinary) response refers to the multiple professional sectors required for a proper and effective response to human trafficking. This term is an important addition to the abolitionist’s vocabulary since it is commonly used among agencies involved in anti-trafficking work.

If the 4P Paradigm (Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Partnership) illustrates the potential links between the four areas of anti-trafficking effort, a multisector response with effective partnerships fosters the involvement of many people or organizations with specialized areas of expertise, skills, or specific types of capacities, such as housing for victims. It takes a village, so to speak, to provide the best response possible in a trafficking case.

One simple example helps to illustrate how many different professional disciplines might be involved in providing the services needed by a single victim. Suppose a victim was forced to work as a domestic servant for three years in the United States and is a foreign national whose visa has expired. The case is investigated and prosecuted by federal agencies. Here are the most basic services the victim will need and the professionals and organizations needed to provide them.

  • Short-term housing (shelter provider)
  • Food and clothing (shelter provider)
  • Translation services, if the victim speaks limited English (translator)
  • Immigration assistance to address expired visa (immigration attorney)
  • Medical assistance (medical doctors)
  • Emotional and psychological assistance (doctors, therapists)
  • Assistance to collect wages due from the trafficker (civil attorney)
  • Assistance to contact family members outside the U.S. (U.S. State Department or NGO)
  • Law enforcement to investigate the case (FBI and/or Homeland Security Investigations – HSI)
  • Prosecutors (United States Attorney’s Office)
  • Federal assistance to determine lost wages (U.S. Department of Labor)
  • Access to appropriate cultural, ethnic, religious support (VSP, CBO, or FBO)
  • Long-term housing while the prosecution proceeds (VSP)
  • Case manager who coordinates all of the above on the victim’s behalf (VSP)

These are the minimal needs for one person! In cases with additional victims, or victims with complex needs, this list can quickly lengthen. The specialized skills required when responding to human trafficking can be extremely diverse, though not every case requires each specialization. So how do we best coordinate access to all of the standard and potential services needed when responding to an incident of human trafficking? By creating and sustaining anti-trafficking task forces.

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