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Lessons Learned: Mapping a US State’s Response to Human Trafficking

This presentation was given at the 2021 ESRC DTP Cambridge Conference by Lucy Mahaffey, MPhil student with the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge.

2021 ESRC DTP Cambridge Conference presentation by Lucy Mahaffey, PhD student with the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge

The abstract for this presentation is as follows:

Three questions underpin this research. What is the nature of human trafficking in Oklahoma? Who is currently responding to this problem and how? What gaps are there in anti-trafficking response?

This research is the first and widest exploration of human trafficking in the state of Oklahoma. There is no centralized database and actors turnover with some regularity, making it difficult to form a coherent picture. To answer the questions, the author conducted thirty-two surveys and ten interviews with key actors across the state including law enforcement, NGO’s, service providers, and tribal groups. Ultimately, there are next to no resources or data on labor trafficking. While it is imperfect, Oklahoma is beginning to form a picture of adult sex trafficking. Throughout Oklahoma there are two task forces, three main law enforcement agencies, and three victim service providers certified to directly serve sex trafficking victims. Results suggest Oklahomans should work to understand their unique local context, particularly regarding Tribes and jurisdictions.

The author concludes with a map ( of the response to date, seven areas for future research, and also key findings and recommendations on ten areas: legislation, data, culture, perceptions, actors/activities, location, measuring, partnerships, good work, and priorities versus moving forward. This fits the “Collaboration and Impact” theme as an executive summary of this research was sent to forty participants across the state and the author is in policy talks with different actors including NGO’s, policy-makers, and journalists.

You can contact Lucy for more details about her work at , or followe her on twitter at @lucycmahaffey

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