Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
The United States’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), as amended, guides efforts to combat human trafficking. The most recent amendments to the TVPA were enacted in December 2008. The purpose of the law is to punish traffickers, protect victims, and prevent trafficking from occurring. Freeing victims from this form of modern-day slavery is the ultimate goal of this report—and of the U.S. Government’s anti-human trafficking policy.
Human trafficking is a multi-dimensional issue. It is a crime that deprives people of their human rights and freedoms, increases global health risks, fuels growing networks of organized crime, and can sustain levels of poverty and impede development in certain areas.
The impacts of human trafficking are devastating. Victims may suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, threats against self and family, and even death. But the devastation also extends beyond individual victims; human trafficking undermines the health, safety, and security of all nations it touches.
A growing community of nations is making significant efforts to eliminate this atrocious crime. The TVPA outlines minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons. Countries that do not make significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards receive a Tier 3 ranking in this report. Such an assessment could prompt the United States to withhold non-humanitarian, non-trade-related foreign assistance.
In assessing foreign governments’ efforts, the TIP Report highlights the “three P’s”— prosecution, protection, and prevention. But a victim-centered approach to trafficking also requires attention to the “three R’s”—rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration. Sharing the best practices in these areas will encourage governments to go beyond the initial rescue of victims and restore to them dignity and the hope of productive lives.
Human Trafficking Defined
The TVPA defines “severe forms of trafficking” as:
a. 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 has not attained 18 years of age; or
b. 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.
A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another in order for the crime to fall within these definitions.
The Scope and Nature of Modern-Day Slavery
The common denominator of trafficking scenarios is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit a person for profit. Traffickers can subject victims to labor exploitation, sexual exploitation, or both. Trafficking for labor exploitation, the form of trafficking claiming the greatest number of victims, includes traditional chattel slavery, forced labor, and debt bondage. Trafficking for sexual exploitation typically includes abuse within the commercial sex industry. In other cases, individuals exploit victims in private homes, often demanding both sex and work. The use of force or coercion can be direct and violent or psychological.
A wide range of estimates exists on the scope and magnitude of modern-day slavery. The International Labor Organization (ILO)—the United Nations agency charged with addressing labor standards, employment, and social protection issues—estimates that there are at least 12.3 million adults and children in forced labor, bonded labor, and commercial sexual servitude at any given time.
Of these victims, the ILO estimates that at least 1.39 million are victims of commercial sexual servitude, both transnational and within countries. According to the ILO, 56 percent of all forced labor victims are women and girls. Human traffickers prey on the weak. Targeting vulnerable men, women, and children, they use creative and ruthless ploys designed to trick, coerce, and win the confidence of potential victims. Very often these ruses involve promises of a better life through employment, educational opportunities, or marriage.
The nationalities of trafficked people are as diverse as the world’s cultures. Some leave developing countries, seeking to improve their lives through low-skilled jobs in more prosperous countries. Others fall victim to forced or bonded labor in their own countries. Women, eager for a better future, are susceptible to promises of jobs abroad as babysitters, housekeepers, waitresses, or models—jobs that traffickers turn into the nightmare of forced prostitution without exit. Some families give children to adults, often relatives, who promise education and opportunity but instead sell the children into exploitative situations for money. But poverty alone does not explain this tragedy, which is driven by fraudulent recruiters, employers, and corrupt officials who seek to reap profits from others’ desperation.
Source: U.S. Department of State