The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, as amended, is likely the most important anti-trafficking law ever passed. Its definition of trafficking is still used today:
A human trafficking victim is a person induced to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud, or coercion.
Any person under age 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion was used.
The TPVA combats human trafficking through a policy of the “Three Ps”:
- Prevention: includes raising awareness of the inhumane practices of trafficking, and seeking to reduce the “benefits” to the traffickers.
- Protection: identifying victims, providing medical care and shelter, and when appropriate, repatriating them.
- Prosecution: passing laws that criminalize trafficking, and jailing the traffickers who exploit others for profit.
The TPVA made human trafficking and slavery a federal crime, and addressed sex crimes, forced labor, involuntary servitude that is tied to a debt, seizing a person’s documents and withholding them, and peonage. By the authority of the TPVA, victims can obtain temporary legal immigration status, medical care, financial restitution, and sometimes witness protection.
According to the TPVA, the United States State Department publishes a list of nations and their efforts against Human Trafficking. The Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report ranks the efforts of countries to combat human trafficking in four Tiers.
The TPVA has been amended and added to in 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2013.
The TPVA expired in September 2017. Not only does the TPVA provide the legal foundation in the United States to fight human trafficking, but it authorizes the federal funding needed to provide anti-trafficking programs and resources to support and treat and protect victims and survivors of this horror, both in the United States and internationally. Please contact your members of congress and urge them to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) as quickly as possible.