Slavery in America has been in existence since 1619, when a Dutch ship captured and transferred 20 enslaved Africans to the one of the first British colonies, Jamestown, Virginia. For another 240 years the practice of owning and selling slaves would continue until the passing of the 13th amendment of the United States Constitution in 1865, when slavery would finally be viewed as indecent practice. However, few are aware that presently, in the year 2011, slavery is still in full swing and many people are being held against their will and forced to participate in sexual and sometimes violent activities.
Our modern day slavery is now referred to as human trafficking and is becoming not only one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises but is subjecting innocent women and children from some of the poorest, least-developed nations in the world into a troublesome world of pornography, prostitution and other forms of coercion labor. The first attempts in trying to address human trafficking were created by the League of Nations and was named the "International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic" (Jani, 2009, p.30). Following closely to this agreement was the "International Convention for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic" created in 1910 which explained human trafficking as a "moral issue related to 'slavery'." (Jani, 2009, p.30) In 1933, for the first time the International Convention reviewed the "Suppression of the Traffic in Women of Full Age", which stated that the "procurement" for prostitution is a criminal act, even if the women has given consent (Jani, 2009, p.30). Finally, the provision which would set the standard for anti-trafficking laws for the following decades until the TVPA is the Convention for the suppression of the traffic in persons and of the exploitation of the prostitution of others. This provision was created by the United Nations in 1949 and criminalized trafficking for prostitution but was not set up with any ways to enforce the issue (Jani, 2009, p. 30). The issue of human trafficking has been around since the Victorian Era, however, it wasn't until the mid- nineteenth century during the Gold Rush and the Industrial Revolution that the organized crime groups began profiting off
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of prostituting women (Jani, 2009). Further increasing the trafficking of women and coerced prostitution were international projects, such as the Panama Canal (Jani, 2009). With the downfall of communism at the turn of the century, human trafficking became a global industry. Sex traffickers profit $7-$10 billion dollars a year by preying on poor, desperate females in foreign countries by convincing them that all their dreams will come true if they leave their homes and agree to work for them (Kandathil, 2005, p.88). Over 700,000 people are trafficked annually across international borders a year, 50,000 of these being poverty stricken women and children who are trafficked specifically to the United States (Public Law 106-386, 2000, pg. 1). As seen in the chart above, the majority of victims which were identified by State authorities in 61 countries were data was researched shows the overwhelming representation of women who are being trafficked of the known cases. As seen in Figure 23, trafficking involving sexual exploitation is the most common form of trafficking, however, "the growing transnational crime also includes forced labor, and involves significant violations of labor, public health, and human rights standards worldwide." (Public Law 106-386, 2000, p.1) addition, "in the past eight years, only 1,229 cases have been reported in the United States by 42 anti-trafficking taskforces", making the amount of cases which go unreported seem to be an unrealistic task to control (Jani, 2009, p.28). In 2000, with the issue of human trafficking growing at fast rates and flooding our local streets, Congress enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The purpose of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 is to "combat trafficking in persons, a contemporary manifestation of slavery whose victims are predominantly women and children, to ensure just and effective punishment of traffickers, and to protect their victims" (Public Law 106-386, 2000, p.4) The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines severe forms of trafficking as:
"1) Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is not 18 years of age: 2) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery." (Rodgers & Rodgers, 2008, p.1)
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Prior to the TVPA, there were no clear or concise provisions to follow when dealing with human trafficking. Instead, an amalgamation of criminal, labor and immigration laws were used in order to deal with trafficking offenses. This combination of law use was inefficient in prosecuting defendants and "often failed to reflect the seriousness of the crimes committed" (Kandathil, 2005, p.89). Even more shocking, is the fact that "inadequate legislation, lethargic prosecutions, and corrupt law enforcement officials have directly contributed to the rise in trafficking." (Kandathil, 2005, p.96) Furthermore, victims, who are typically foreign females and are often timid, due not only to feeling violated by sexual exploitations but usually are unable to communicate or escape because of language barriers, were treated as if they were guilty of consenting to involvement, when in actuality they were forced to cooperate, sexually abused and threatened by sex traffickers. Specifically stated in the text of the legislation itself, "Existing laws often fail to protect victims of trafficking, and because victims are often illegal immigrants in the destination country, they are repeatedly punished more harshly than the traffickers themselves." (Public Law 106-386, 2000, p.6) With the commercial sex industry becoming one of the biggest and most attractive endeavors for money hungry businessman, sex trafficking is used to entertain tourists, which in turn created huge economic benefits, and finally led to government officials condoning the practice because of the financial gains and the reasonably low risk for perpetrators (Kandathil, 2005, p.96). As a result, Congress created the Trafficking Victims Protections Act in 2000 in order to correctly punish offenders, to help victims of these serious and deceitful crimes, and to encourage other countries to not only identify sex trafficking as a serious offense, but to also try and put a stop to it.
First and foremost, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 was created in order to punish and prosecute trafficking offenders, to achieve this; new felony charges, harsher penal sentences, and mandatory compensation to victims for their suffering were established (Kandathil, 2005, p.98). The TVPA changed a ten- year maximum sentence to a twenty year sentence plus a hefty fine if a person was found guilty of binding a person in servitude in order to repay a debt, kidnapping, inducing a person into slavery, or selling a human being into involuntary servitude (Kandathil, 2005, p.98). Furthermore, if death is brought upon a victim, kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, aggravated sexual abuse, attempted aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill occurs along with a human trafficking offense then the TVPA allows a much more severe punishment of life incarceration (Kandathil, 2005, p.96). By encouraging international agencies to collaborate and work together in order to prevent human trafficking, the TVPA incorporates grants given to nongovernmental organizations in order to educate and hopefully to help prevent women into being coerced to enter human trafficking. Due to the TVPA, the legislation regularly assesses and monitors the cooperation of other countries in their ability to adhere to the minimum standards required in abolishing human trafficking. In addition, the legislation provides for the development and support of increasing opportunities and better lives for potential victims in their own country of origin (Kandathil, 2005, p. 98). Equally important, is the legislation's attempt through the TVPA to establish education and awareness campaigns to inform possible victims of the hazards regarding the criminal activity of human traffickers and to assist in the strengthening of law enforcement efforts to stop the horrors of human trafficking (Kandathil, 2005, p.98).
The social and physical environment in which this policy was created to help is one of extreme poverty and crime (Kandathil, p.91). The supply of victims is deeply rooted in many factors such as "poverty, weak social and economic structure, the perception of a higher standard of living elsewhere, organized crime, lack of employment or underemployment, climatic catastrophes, discrimination against women, violence against women and children, government corruption, armed conflict, political instability, and cultural norms or traditions that permit slavery." (Rodgers & Rodgers, 2008, p.1) Foreign women and children are often the main targets for traffickers simply because they cannot easily escape and cannot communicate with locals because of the language barrier (Kandathil, 2005, p.91-92) However, after being involved in human trafficking, many of these women and children are detested from their own communities because of the stigma received after being involved in sexual exploitation. Many are subjected to human bondage, introduced to deadly diseases such as AIDS or are beaten to death for lack of cooperation (Public Law 106-386, 2000, p.5). If a person is found to be a victim of a severe form of trafficking then they can receive benefits such as protection and assistance and continued presence in the United States. (Roby, Turley, & Cloward, 2008, p.513) The victim will only be granted these benefits if they can prove that they suffered through a 'severe form' of trafficking, and if the victim is willing to assist in any way possible in order to apprehend and prosecute the alleged trafficker (Roby, Turley, & Cloward, 2008, p. 513). The victim then must apply for a T-visa or for continued presence status in the United States while waiting for the criminal proceedings against the perpetrators. (Roby, Turley, & Cloward, 2008, p. 513)
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Economically, the environment in which the victims are manipulated into being trafficked is primarily that of very poor countries, "economic desperation makes migration an appealing option." (Kandathil, 2005, p.91) The growth of human trafficking is rapidly expanding. The United Nations stated that human trafficking was the second highest source of revenue for organized crime, following extremely closely to drug trade. (Rodgers & Rodgers, 2008, p.1) Perpetrators of human trafficking are fully aware of the high demand of the trade, factors such as, the worldwide growth of the sex industry, the demand for cheap, exploitable labor, and the ever growing industry of sex tourism and child pornography allow for traffickers to heavily profit off of human trafficking. Additionally, the widely accessible source of internet has helped assist traffickers into making more transactions at an undetectable rate (Rodgers & Rodgers, 2008, p.4). "Profits from trafficking fund the expansion of international crime syndicates, foster government corruption, and undermine civil society." (Rodgers & Rodgers, 2008, p.1)
Although human trafficking has become one of the fastest growing problems in the past recent years, the effectiveness of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 is being questioned on how well the Act is actually deterring human trafficking and if victims are actually being helped. The TVPA was signed into law on October 28, 2000 and was one of the first laws which clearly recognized the Trafficking of persons as a "grave violation of human rights" and "a matter of pressing international concern."(Mattar, 2003, p.163) There are three distinct goals of the TVPA. The first goal is to punish and prosecute traffickers, the second goal is to prevent trafficking and the third goal is to protect victims (Kandathil, 2005, p.98)
Along with the establishment of new felony charges, harsher penal sentencing, and mandatory restitution to victims for violations, the TVPA also aims to prevent trafficking by the "development of education curricula regarding the dangers of trafficking." (Kandathil, 2005, p.98) By establishing education and awareness campaigns, the TVPA acts as a beneficial way to warn potential victims and to strengthen law enforcement (Kandathil, 2005). The TVPA also provides assistance to foreign countries for programs, projects and activities designed to help countries meet the minimum standards of the provisions of the TVPA. (Mattar, 2003) Specifically, the TVPA aims to assist foreign countries in adopting anti-trafficking laws which enable foreign countries to punish and prohibit acts of trafficking, the investigation and prosecution of traffickers, victim assistance and protection programs. (Mattar, 2003) Furthermore, the TVPA also states that the United States needs to "establish international initiatives to enhance economic opportunities for potential victims of trafficking, including lending program, training and business development, skills training, job counseling and women's economic participation programs, stay in school programs for children and grants to NGOs to advance the role of women."(Mattar, 2003, p.173) "In 2006-07, UNODC provided funding for NGOs in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to run trafficking prevention campaigns among asylum-seekers, a particularly vulnerable group. Counseling was provided to young to make them aware of the risks and where they can seek help." (UNDOC, 2009, p.112)
In order to correctly implement the TVPA, an interagency task force was created through the provisions of the TVPA in order to evaluate the progress made not only in the United States, but in foreign countries as well. The interagency task force is comprised of President appointed members, which includes the Secretary of State, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, The Attorney General, The Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, The Director of Central Intelligence, and any other officials which the president deems necessary (Public Law 106-386, 2000, p.6). Mattar (2003) states that "the TVPA also requires the United States to monitor the status of trafficking in other foreign countries, provides such countries with assistance to combat trafficking and imposes sanctions on those countries that are complicit in trafficking." (p.163) There are four minimum standards, set by the TVPA, the first being that the government of a country is required to recognize all forms of trafficking, including trafficking for prostitution or for forced labor, as a criminal offense with punishable consequences (Mattar, 2003). The second standard requires governments to apply appropriate sentences when the sex trafficking involves a minor or aggravated circumstances (Mattar, 2003). Thirdly, the TVPA requires a country's government to apply harsh sentences to any person who violates the trafficking law in order to deter others and show them that human trafficking is a serious crime which is punishable (Mattar, 2003). Finally, the fourth
standard is based upon the government's efforts in abolishing human trafficking, including their efforts in "prosecution, protection and prevention" (Mattar, 2003, p.165) and the measures taken to comply with the other three standards (Mattar, 2003). An annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report submitted by the State Department to the appropriate Congressional committees is one of the provisions required by the TVPA (Mattar, 2003). The TIP report classifies countries into three categories based on that countries cooperation in applying the four minimum standards set by the TVPA, in order to eventually eliminate the trafficking of humans. The first category includes countries whose governments have fully accepted and applied these standards. The second category includes those countries whose governments who have not fully complied with the standards stated in the TVPA, but are making sufficient efforts to do so. Lastly, the third category is comprised of those countries whose governments do not fully accept the standards and provisions of the TVPA and are making no efforts to abolish human trafficking. (Mattar, 2003) The reporting process is designed to constructively engage foreign countries in cooperating with the United States and to encourage these foreign countries "through normal channels of diplomacy and direct dialogue, to comply with the minimum standards" of the TVPA. (Mattar, 2003, p.164)
The Chart above is data collected from the TIP Report which shows how many countries are involved in retrieving and documenting information on human trafficking and to what extent the countries all comply on the amount of information which is documented and submitted to be analyzed. These reports and statistics were not easy for the researchers to track down. They had to split up into groups and attempt to get information that was kept in restricted levels of foreign governments and the information they did find was constantly changing. "The capacity to detect trafficking victims increased during the reporting period - the number of victims detected
increased by 27% between 2003 and 2006 (in 71 selected countries)." (UNODC, 2009, p.57) Making the task even more strenuous, was the fact that each nation collected their data differently, and focused on different aspects of human trafficking such as the conviction rate or the amount of victims placed in shelters. "As a consequence, some systems prosecute trafficking cases through offences like pandering, slavery, child protection or even by making use of labor laws to punish clear cases of trafficking in persons for forced labor." (UNODC, 2009, p.22) Below is another chart from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime which allows us to see which countries and territories are involved in providing information for the Tip Report. Each nation is separated into the different regions in which they are found. However, many countries are not involved in the TIP Report, either because they do not have access to information on this subject, or there just simply is none. In the TIP Report, it is stated that most of these countries do not collect this data directly for this Report, but instead collect it for their own administrative purposes (UNODC, 2009).
After the creation of the TVPA, (fiscal year 2001-2003) the U.S. Attorney's office initiated 110 prosecutions of human traffickers, which resulted in 78 convictions and guilty pleas. (Roby, Turley, & Cloward, 2008) There was also an increase in the number of defendants charged for sex trafficking, from a low number of eight in 1999, to a substantial increase in 2003 of 25. (Roby, Turley, & Cloward, 2008) In 2003, revisions of the TVPA increased penalties for trafficking, including increases in sentencing (leading to penalties three to four times larger than previous punishment) and a shift of focus to create more public awareness through anti-trafficking campaigns. (Roby, Turley, & Cloward, 2008) These provisions increased the amount of human trafficking cases being filed up to 29 cases (which almost equaled the number of cases filed in the three previous years combined), and paved the way for the highest number of defendants charged with human trafficking violations, a whopping 59 defendants. Equally important is the number of convictions against traffickers, which topped out at 43 convictions and is the highest, recorded. Furthermore, is the progress of other foreign nations seen in the chart above, "as of November 2008, 63% of the 155 countries and territories this report had passed laws against trafficking in persons addressing the major forms of trafficking. The number of countries having anti-trafficking legislation more than doubled between 2003 and 2008 in response to the passage of the Protocol. In addition, 54% of responding- countries have established a special anti-human trafficking police unit, and more than half have developed a national action plan to deal with this issue."(UNODC, 2009, p.8) Even more shocking, is that "91 countries (57% of the reporting countries) reported at least one human trafficking prosecution, and 73 countries reported at least one conviction. A core of 47 countries reported making at least 10 convictions per year (as seen in the chart below), with 15 making at least five times this number." (UNODC, 2009, p.8) Also one quite noticeable aspect of this chart is that Southern Africa seems to be one of the largest nations without any convictions or offences in force.
With the expanding range of crimes under the TVPA and the emphasis on prosecution, supporters of the current U.S. efforts believe that the progress so far has been efficient in the task and steps taken towards the elimination of human trafficking. (Roby, Turley, & Cloward, 2008) However, the Assistant U.S. District Attorney Dustin Pead, the lead prosecutor for human trafficking cases in the District of Utah, believes that although the current policy is "compatible with the overall concept of curtailing human trafficking", he acknowledges the fact that "the current legislation creates a thorny dilemma for victims." (Roby, Turley, & Cloward, 2008, p.520) Pead states, with observations confirmed by Wilson, Walsh and Kleuber (2006), that the largest obstacle when dealing with human trafficking is poor training of law enforcement officials when it comes to the issue of human trafficking. Current training is lacking in the skills necessary to prepare law enforcement officials for a "proactive and informed" attitude towards human trafficking. Along with the above mentioned issues, the TVPA has also fallen short of its three main goals: to punish and prosecute traffickers, to prevent trafficking, and to protect victims. One major issue is that the TVPA does not acknowledge cases where consent was involved. The defense of consent by the victim should not act as a barrier to prosecutions under the TVPA because in many cases, although consent was given, the victims were tricked and lied to about the actual jobs or living arrangements which were originally agreed upon. (Kandathil, 2005) The TVPA also fails to punish the customers, those who "purchase illegal commercial sex acts and fuel trafficking economies."(Kandathil, 2005, p.111) Furthermore, the T-Visa Provision is too restrictive and limited in those who are eligible. There is an underrepresentation of victims who are involved in human trafficking because they are afraid of deportation and risk their lives by coming forward to fight against their traffickers.
Although the TVPA has proven to be effective thus far, many believe that what is now necessary in order to see continued progress are not more changes in the law but public awareness to reach the victims. However, increased public awareness, without a fundamental shift in the law, will be unable to result in "effective victim services or criminal prosecutions." (Roby, Turley & Cloward, 2008, p.520) By providing not only victims of sex trafficking with accessible public awareness information, but also law enforcement agencies we will be able to prevent more cases and teach people the dangers of these sex traffickers. Specifically, Roby, Turley and Cloward (2008, p. 520) state that by incorporating programs into our law enforcement agencies to provide adequate and educational information about sex trafficking and the dangers and conflicts of the matter, that "state and local governments will learn to recognize, investigate and prosecute human trafficking", and that the United States "will see greater success with its initiatives." Providing training in law enforcement officials to better engage in dealing with the victims of sex trafficking and the offenders would be extremely beneficial. It would allow law enforcement officials to be more prepared and knowledgeable to assist victims and to track down offenders. It would also provide them with a more "proactive and informed" attitude in order to help diminish the amount of trafficking which is occurring. Although it may be costly to try and instill programs into our law enforcement agencies, I believe that the benefits would outweigh the costs drastically. Furthermore, we could reduce the costs of the training if certain law enforcement officials were picked to specialize in this field. Although not everyone would be extensively trained in order to deal with these issues, we would have the select few who would be trained efficiently and would know how to deal with this matter whenever it arises.
Another alteration of the TVPA which would be extremely beneficial to the current policy would be to provide better and more individualized care for victims. Although the TVPA does call for the assistance and protection to victims, many feel that it is inadequate in dealing with this complex and extremely sensitive position in which the victims are in. First and foremost, most care which is provided is through existing community service organizations and are not designed or funded to meet the special needs of these traumatized victims. "When attempting to serve or advocate for trafficking victims, it is important to do so through sensitive qualified interpreters that can properly assess and meet the needs of individuals within their cultural context."(Kandathil, 2005, p.115) Since many victims of sex trafficking tend to have language and cultural barriers, it is important that the services rendered to them are "proactive and creative" and they should be able to help prevent trafficking and intervene for the sake of trafficking persons. (Kandathil, 2005, p.115) Equally important, would be providing victims with reintegration services and shelters. Reintegration for victim's who wish to return home after experiencing this traumatic victimization can be very hard. Many of these women may face ostracism and condemnation from family and friends and can feel isolated when they are unable to express their individual needs. (Kandathil, 2008, p.116) This process requires knowledgeable and sensitive services which most communities are unable to provide. (Kandathil, 2008, p.116) Finally, by making shelters specifically for the victims of sex trafficking, individuals would be able to confide in each other and share their experiences with others who can relate to them and understand what they've been through. Also, by providing shelter for the victims, they can receive the medical and mental health services which may be necessary after experiencing unimaginable forms of exploitation and being stripped of their human rights. Kandathil (2008, p.116) calls for "special housing with women in similar circumstances, language support, and counselors, social workers and medical personnel trained to address the particular problems associated with trafficking." These alterations to the TVPA would be particularly beneficial to the victims; however, many shelters are hesitant to engage in the acceptance of sex trafficking victims. This is not because they don't want to help, but along with the victims comes the increase security risks posed by harboring these victims. Since most sex traffickers are involved with gangs and organized crime, it creates the potential for violence, not only for the victims, but it could also endanger the lives of other occupants in the shelter. Another problem is how to finance these special training facilities or the requirement of medical attention so that the victims would not be burdened with having to pay for these services. I believe that if the money received in order to finance this policy is put towards the rehabilitation of the victims then it would not only help to prosecute offenders but will help all those involved in the process to receive a justified ending.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 has proven to be a success in taking steps in order to combat this modern day slavery, however, much more can be done. Most Importantly, I believe that informing the general public about this issue of modern day slavery is crucial, many people are unaware that these acts of violence towards unknowing victims is even occurring. By encouraging people to take proactive steps in combating human trafficking we will be able to not only to help the victims, but to try and prevent more people from becoming victims of this underground ring of human trafficking.