Academic journal article Texas Journal of Women, Gender, and the Law

Combating Domestic Sex Trafficking: Time for a New Approach

Academic journal article Texas Journal of Women, Gender, and the Law

Combating Domestic Sex Trafficking: Time for a New Approach

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION..........................................................................................169

I. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SEX TRAFFICKING AND PROSTITUTION..................................................................................171

II. FEDERAL SEX TRAFFICKING LEGISLATION: THE TRAFFICKING VICTIMS PROTECTION ACT (TVPA)................................................174

III. STATE SEX TRAFFICKING LEGISLATION..........................................178

IV. PROSTITUTION LAWS AND THEIR ROLE IN SEX TRAFFICKING CASES...............................................................................................182

A. State Legislation......................................................................182

B. Federal Legislation.................................................................184

V. FACTORS THAT PERMIT THE SURVIVAL OF SEX TRAFFICKING........185

CONCLUSION..............................................................................................189

INTRODUCTION

The foregoing story is a fictitious illustration of how an individual can be maintained in the sex industry through force and coercion, or, in other words, trafficked. Sex trafficking is defined as the "recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act."1 2 Sex trafficking is one form of human trafficking. Human trafficking is also known as trafficking in persons (TIP), a form of modern-day slavery.3 Human trafficking and TIP are terms used to describe activities of maintaining control over another person and forcing her or him to perform a service.4 The definition of human trafficking has evolved throughout history, but we now understand it to be a means for one person to exploit another person; this exploitation can be achieved by recruiting, transporting, or harboring another person, or by exploiting them sexually or for labor services.5

Highlighting overall rates of human trafficking, the 2013 Trafficking In Persons Report estimates that "based on the information governments have provided, only around 40,000 victims have been identified in the last year. In contrast, social scientists estimate that as many as 27 million men, women, and children are trafficking victims at any given time."6 Human trafficking is known to be, on a global scale, the second largest criminal enterprise,7 and the United States is known to be a "major destination country" for this enterprise.8 Clearly, the United States plays a major role in the human trafficking crisis, which provides us with an opportunity to consider solutions that can decrease these appalling rates of victimization. More specifically, the United States is home to alarming rates of sex trafficking,9 the particular type of human trafficking on which this Article will focus. This Article will examine domestic sex trafficking, exploring what is currently being done and what can be improved to reduce the number of sex trafficking victims in the United States.

Before beginning the analysis of U.S. legislation, this Article will consider the relationship between sex trafficking and prostitution in Section I. Certainly, to understand the discussion of the tension between U.S. federal trafficking law and states' varying prostitution laws, we must first understand how these two concepts intersect.

Sections II, III, and IV will discuss various pieces of legislation that address sex trafficking, providing an overview of both federal and state approaches to the problem, as well as the legislation that focuses directly on prostitution. The analysis of this legislation will demonstrate that while advocates of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and antitrafficking efforts recognize prostitution as a form of sex trafficking- especially in the case of minors-our country's treatment of sex trafficking still largely relies on individual states' prostitution legislation. …

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