According to the thirteenth amendment of the U.S.
Constitution, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the
U.S. (TVPA, 2000). This concept became the foundation of the human trafficking
law. California defines human trafficking as “”all
acts involved in the recruitment, abduction, transport, harboring, transfer,
sale or receipt of persons, within national or across international borders,
through force, coercion, fraud or deception, to place persons in situations of
slavery or slavery-like conditions, forced labor or services, such as forced
prostitution or sexual services, domestic servitude, bonded sweatshop labor, or
other debt bondage.” (REFERENCE).
The California Penal Code confirms that anyone
who “deprives or violates the personal liberty of another with intent…to obtain
forced labor or services” is guilty of human trafficking (REFERENCE). Deprivation of personal freedom includes
significant control of ones freedom through illegal means of force, violence
and or threat (REFERENCE). Forced labor or services are defined as “labor or
services that are performed by a person through force, fraud or any conduct
that overpowers the will of that person” (REFERENCE).
Federal law defines
human trafficking as “sex trafficking in which sexual acts are performed by
force or through illegal means or the person forced to perform such acts is a
minor. Secondly, the federal government considers human trafficking to also
include the illegal detainment, harboring or transportation of a person for
labor or services through intimidation, forced slavery or debt slavery (REFERENCE). Federal law punishes a sex
trafficker with fifteen years to life in prison, however ironically California
makes it punishable by three to eight years in prison.
The first law against human
trafficking was implemented in 2000 known as The Trafficking Victims Protection
Act (TVPA). This law was established to prevent, protect and prosecute (Farrell
et al., 2014). The TVPA established
provisions to identify the monetary penalties of human trafficking. This
act required the victims the rewarded reimbursement, victim assistance programs
and approved T-Visa’s allowing victims who were trafficked into America to
remain in the country and work for three years before needing to apply for
American citizenship. Trafficking victims were also entitled to the same
benefits as asylum’s including, monetary assistance from the government,
Medicaid, TANF, Supplemental Security Income and more (TVPA, 2000).
The TVPA was reauthorized through
the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization (TVPRA) of 2003, 2005, 2008
and 2013. The TVPRA enacted in 2003 sharpened
the penalties for trafficking crimes and
established more tools for law enforcement and prosecutors (TVPRA, 2003). It
also allowed the government to begin anti-trafficking propagandas to increase
public awareness on human trafficking. Additionally, Congress added provisions
to the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to have yet
another available resource for prosecution (Candes, 2001). Alongside the TVPA
and TVPRA, every state now embodies some form of anti-trafficking policy
(Polaris Project, 2014).
Simultaneously in 2003, the Prosecutorial
Remedies and Other Tools to end Child Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT)
Act was signed by President Bush. This Act criminalized any U.S. citizen who
engaged or tried to participate in illegal sexual conduct with children in
other nations. The PROTECT Act also put an end to the decree of restrictions in
child trafficking matters, increasing the sentences for the crime (U.S. Dept of
In 2005, more tools were available
for prosecutors to combat domestic and international trafficking. One
resourceful addition was the civil suit matter which allowed victims to sue the
traffickers. In the case of United States v. Jimenez-Calderon (2002) eight
defendants were charged with 2-17 year prison terms and a total of $135,240,000
in restitution fines for the trafficking of Mexican girls into the U.S. for
prostitution (USDOJ, 2006).
The Polaris Project rates states
based on the efficiency of their trafficking laws (supporting victims and
penalizing traffickers). Thirty nine states have passed noteworthy policies to
battle human trafficking. Resources for
victims such as, human trafficking hotlines, safe harbor laws for minors,
assistance programs for victims and expungement of convictions for victims of
sex trafficking are not consistently available across all states. In 2010, New York was the first state to adopt
the “vacatur” law to allow trafficking victims an opportunity to obliterate
their criminal convictions associated to their victimization. Since 2010, 36
states have enacted the Vacatur law (U.S. Dept of State, 2017). As of 2017, 34
states have enacted safe harbor laws to protect victims who are minors against
punishment for their forced crimes (REFERENCE)
2005 the state of California created the AB 22 California Trafficking Victims
Protection ACT (CTVPA) which made human trafficking a felony punishable by 3-5
years in prison and 4-8 years if the victim was a minor (Farrell et al., 2014).
More trafficking laws began to stem in the last couple of
decades. In 2014, President Obama signed the Preventing Sex Trafficking and
Strengthening Families act tightened the standing child welfare policies in
relation to foster care and adoption. The purpose of this policy is to protect and
prevent the exploitation of children and youth in the foster system from
becoming trafficking victims. This policy acknowledged the major influence
state agencies have in permanent stability for minor trafficking victims.
In 2015, The Justice for Victims of
Trafficking Act signed again by President Obama, allowed for the
criminalization and prosecution of persons who pay for sexual acts from
trafficking victims (REFERENCE). This Act gave access to the states to obtain
restitution fines from arrested traffickers to assist the trafficking victims. This law also placed clarity for the courts
and law enforcement that a person who pays for sexual acts from trafficking
victims may be arrested and convicted as a sex trafficker. To accomplish this goal, the federal criminal
code was revised to equate trafficking victim solicitation to recruiting, harboring,
transporting or sustaining a trafficking victim (REFERENCE). The person luring the victim does not
need to have knowledge that he/she is paying for sexual acts from a victim or a
minor. Simply engaging in the reckless act of disregard to the possibility is
enough for that person to be charged with a crime.
and Prevention against Human Trafficking
As human trafficking
increases in recognition combative approaches are necessary to prevent protect
and end the cycle. Stop the Traffik, established in 2006 from first hand
esperiences of human trafficking began as a casual alliance focused on
campaigns to raise awareness. Lack of knowledge in regards to the matter
is a significant factor impeding anti trafficking campaigns. Often times people
mistaken smuggling for trafficking and emphasis is lost on the exploitation of
International trafficking almost always causes concern for immigration; however,
immigrant trafficking victims cannot be treated solely as illegal
immigrants. Stricter policies are essential to decrease or monitor the
sex industry to end human exploitation and trade.
Anti-trafficking efforts must be included in all areas of policy. Education for
victims is vital (especially in third world countries) to prevent vulnerability
of people becoming victims of human trafficking. Increasing law enforcement
wages in high trafficking countries is another alternative to control the
epidemic, where officers won’t be vulnerable to bribery.
Stop Traffik launched a couple of campaigns against human trafficking. Start
Freedom, operating globally in coordination with the United Nations focuses on
raising awareness in young people by educating them on human trafficking.
Considering that a notable amount of victims are minors, this campaign allows
young people to recognize their strengths in preventing such an illegal act.
Active Communities against Trafficking (ACT) gathers community members and
gears them with loads of resources to identify human trafficking along with
tools to put an end to the cycle. In order to be successful with this campaign
the communities establish relationships with law enforcement, public figures
and community leaders. The idea is that trafficking begins in a community,
therefore, can end in a community.
In July 2017 the House signed the reauthorization of the Frederick Douglass
Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act by allotting
$520 million over a four year period to programs that assist with
anti-trafficking, protection and prevention. Such programs include educating
children about human trafficking as well as educating employers on how to
identify trafficking victims. The Bill also aims to combat trafficking by not
authorizing item sales in America made by trafficked victims.
are numerous ways to strengthen and expand anti-trafficking policies. The 2008
TVPA reauthorization Act mandated that human trafficking be included on the FBI’s
Uniform Crime Report. Since 2013, police departments have begun to collect data
on human trafficking. The U.S. Dept. of Justice continuously collects data that
is voluntarily provided by federal, state and local law enforcement
organizations who participate in task forces in designated areas. Although this
selective data set is relatively small, the Uniform Crime Report Data measures
information across the United States.
anti trafficking laws continue to improve and expand based on experiences. Law enforcement learned that assistance to
victims is necessary to alleviate victims in order to receive their assistance
during investigation and prosecution.
Concurrently, the government realized that in order to be able to
identify human trafficking, training is vital.
Some laws now require police academies to incorporate courses on the
subject of trafficking to increase law enforcement officers’ awareness of the
crime. Furthermore states saw the recognition of Human Trafficking as a
collaborative effort among several agencies and made planning and participation
of agencies for health services, employment, housing and education to be a
policy requirement (reference). Finally
state laws expanded the anti-trafficking campaign by requiring manufacturers
and retailers to publicly reveal their exertions of maintaining trafficking-free