Another member of the collaborative is Mercy Care, a a local nonprofit, Medicaid managed-care health plan.
“Children in foster care have a higher risk of becoming trafficking victims, and through our partnership with the Department of Child Safety, we’re responsible statewide for the health and wellness of these children,” Mercy Care project manager Amber Divens, who works with the Southern Arizona Human Trafficking Collaborative, said in an email to the Star.
“We want to make sure that youth who have been trafficked have immediate access to the physical and mental health care services they need.”
Addressing the root cause
While Crawford was clear that Southern Arizona still sees confirmed cases of sex trafficking, advocates for sex workers’ rights say the issue has been overblown in recent years as a way to shut down proposed decriminalization of sex work.
“The anti-trafficking rhetoric is very powerful and compelling. Who isn’t against anyone being forced into any form of labor, especially sexual labor?” said Juliana Piccillo of Tucson’s Sex Workers Outreach Project. “No one wants to be called pro-sex trafficking, but evidence-based research has shown that decriminalization of sex work will reduce harm.”