Global estimates of human trafficking range from six hundred thousand to four million victims each year – the majority being victims of sex trafficking (McCabe, & Manian, 2010). These women, men, and children are considered the backbone of one of the world’s most profitable industries forced to do the unthinkable before being discarded. In response to the overwhelming growth of the business, many nations (including the United States) have set out to prevent, prosecute, and rehabilitate offenders and victims alike. Despite this, many nations struggle to follow the definition of “trafficking” and more people are abducted and sold. As such, revisions to these global efforts need to be made to acknowledge the growing business and to consider what social/psychological implications it has on the victims.
So, what makes ‘sex trafficking’ so hard to define? According to Trafficking Victims’ Protection Act, sex trafficking is defined as “…the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” (2000). The human trafficking industry has emerged as one of the most intricate forms of organized crime in which law enforcement finds inherent difficulty in working with foreign governments where limited leverage exists. In these countries, trafficking may not be explicitly illegal or legislation is not heavily enforced.
To combat these networks domestically, the United States government has implemented the Trafficking Victims Protection Act; which was first introduced in 2000. It has since been reauthorized in 2003, 2005, and 2008. The act’s purpose is to “combat trafficking in persons, especially into the sex trade, slavery, and involuntary servitude, to reauthorize certain Federal programs to prevent violence against
women, and for other purposes.” (2000). Since its passing and subsequent reauthorizations, many victims have been denied benefits under the act leaving the overall goal unachieved.
According to the certification guidelines of the TVPA reauthorization acts of 2003 and 2005, a woman must provide proof that she was a victim of a “severe form of trafficking.” She must also be willing to assist in the prosecution of her trafficker(s) (TVPRA, 2003). In addition to this, she must also have made an application for a T Visa that has not been denied, or be necessary for the prosecution of her trafficker(s) (TVPRA, 2005).
The “severe trafficking” standard is damaging to most domestic victims of the industry. As aforementioned, a victim must provide proof of the latter to receive benefits and services under the TVPA; meaning that they were “subject to performing commercial sex acts” induced by “force, fraud, coercion” (2000). By constituting this, Congress has made a decision of who deserves protection.
On a global scale, the United Nations had enacted the Protocol against Trafficking in Persons in 2003 in response to the overwhelming growth of victims. Since its inception, the...