International Traffcking of Women and

Children Victim Protection Act of 1999 (S.600)

Analysis of Protection Act by Dorchen Leidholdt


14 April 1999

The Honorable Paul Wellstone


United States Senate

 136 Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510


Dear Senator Wellstone:


The undersigned, a coalition  of women's  rights  organizations  united against   trafficking  in 

 women  and children, would  like to thank you fortaking a  leadership role in combating the

international trafficking of women and  children for  sexual exploitation and  forced labor.  We are 

writing tourge  you to  amend the  International Trafficking  of   Women  and  Children Victim

Protection  Act of 1999 (S.600)to ensure that all women and girls whoare  trafficked  for  the  purpose 

of sexual  exploitation can  benefit fromits provisions.


As  you  know, millions of women  and children around the world are trafficked for  the purposes of

sexual exploitation and forced labor. Traffickers procure their  victims inmany ways, and the sexual

exploitationof women  and girls  takes many forms.Some  women  and  girls are  abducted; some   are 

deceived   by   offers  of legitimate  work  in another  country; some are sold by their own poverty-

stricken  parents who,  barely able to feed their children, are lured by  traffickers who profit  from

their desperation.  These  young  women  and girls, anxious to contribute to their families and  help

them  seek a better life,  sometimes  acquiesce. They  are then   sold by traffickers  into prostitution,

where they are mercilessly  exploited   by  practices such  as   sex  tourism,  which  often involves  

Americans    traveling   onorganized  sex tours  from  the UnitedStates,  or  they  are catalogued

 and exploited  as  mail-order or  internet brides, often  by American men who buy them into marriage 

for the price of agreen card. Regardless of how they are dragged into  the multi-billion dollar industry of

sexual exploitation, these women  and  girls  suffer  unspeakable human rights violations as

commodities of the trade in human beings.


While  we  welcome  the  International Trafficking  of   Women  and  Children Victim Protection  Act

of 1999 (S.600)and  the measures proposed  therein to combat  international trafficking  and protect 

victims  of  exploitation  by traffickers,    the   definition    of"trafficking"  in  this  bill must  be

amended as it is drasticallyunder-inclusive.  As   written,  S.600would  not  cover  some  of  the  most

common  methods   of  sex  trafficking which  prey  on  and  profit from  the economic desperation  of

women, girls,and  their families by  securing their"consent"  to sale in  prostitution or marriage. The

definition of trafficking  currently in  S.600 wouldnot only fail to protect a substantial number  of

  trafficking  victims,  it would also  shield many traffickers inthe global sex trade from prosecution.


In failing to address the human rights violations suffered by the millions of desperately 

impoverished women and children who"consent"  to their sexual exploitation, the definition   of

trafficking  in S.600 falls  far short of   the   standards   set  forth   ininternational  human  rights law. 

The 1949 United Nations Convention for th eSuppression of  the Traffic in Persons and   of  the  

Exploitation   of  theProstitution of Others recognizes that"the   traffic  in  persons   for  thepurpose of

prostitution is incompatible  with   the  dignity  andworth of the human person and endanger the 

welfare  of  the individual,  the family   and   the   community."   The Convention explicitly  obligates

stateparties  to   punish  any  person  whoexploits  the prostitution  of anotherperson "even  with the

consent of that person."  Similarly, Article 6  of theUnited   Nations  Convention   on  the Elimination

of All Forms of Discrimination Against  Women providesthat  "State  Parties  shall take

 all appropriate     measures,    including legislation, to  suppress all forms of traffic  in women and

 exploitation of prostitution of women." These treaties reflect  a  consensus  of  the  United Nations,

 reflected  in  international law,  that  human  trafficking is  the recruitment  and transport  of

persons for   the  purpose   of  exploitation, regardless of whether or not they have "consented"  to their 

trafficking. It is the traffickers - those responsible for  this exploitation  - who  are the focus  of   attention 

for  definition purposes, rather than thos etrafficked. Exploitation,  rather than coercion,  is  the

operative  concept.


To reflect the international consensus that the transport of human beings forthe  purpose  of  sexual

 exploitation constitutes trafficking, regardless of whether  or   not  such  persons  have "consented"  to  

their  exploitation,Section  4(2)  of  the  proposed  bill should be  amended to read as follows:


(2) Trafficking. --The term"trafficking" means:


(a) sex  trafficking: the recruitment, transportation within or across borders,  purchase, sale,  transfer,

receipt or  harboring of  a person for the   purpose   of   prostitution   or exploiting   the   marriage  of  

suchperson; or


(b) labor trafficking: the recruitment, transportation  within or across   borders,    purchase,

  sale,transfer,  receipt or  harboring  of a person involving the use of deception,coercion (including  the

 use or threat of force or the abuse of authority) ordebt   bondage  for  the   purpose  of placing   or  

holding  such   person, whether for  pay or not, in servitude,in forced, bonded or coerced labor, in a

 community  other  than  the one  in which such person lived at the time ofthe  original  deception,

coercion  orbondage.


For  the purpose  of  this definition,the exploitation  of marriage shall be defined as the

commercial facilitation,   by    an   individual, partnership, association or corporation,   of   marriage

  through introduction   between  men   who  are citizens or permanent residents of the United  States

and  women who  are not citizens or permanent residents of the United  States  when  such  women

  are offered  by  mail  or  any  electronic method  of communication  among  15 or more other such

women for selection by men,   for   a   fee.  Unlike   dating services, which offer introductions to both 

men  and women  for  a fee,  theexploitation  of  marriage involves  adifferential treatment on the

basis of sex   which   positions  husbands   asconsumers   and  wives   as  products.


You have  recognized and  acted on the clear  need   for  strong  legislation addressing the

international trafficking of  women and children for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labor.

We urge you to make thatlegislation comprehensive  by amending the  definition   of  trafficking

 set forth in  S.600 as suggested above. In this way you can bring this legislation in line with

internationallaw,   ensuring  that  all   forms  oftrafficking  are   addressed  by  thisimportant

 legislation  and  that  all women and girls who are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation

can benefit from its provisions.




Jessica Neuwirth, President

Equality Now


Gloria Feldt, President

Planned   Parenthood   Federation   ofAmerica


Adrienne Germain,

PresidentInternational Women’s Health Coalition


Patricia Ireland, President

National Organization  for Women (NOW)


Mim Kelber, Co-Founder and Secretary

Women's  Environment  and  Development

Organization (WEDO)


Frances Kissling, President

Catholics for a Free Choice


Laura   Lederer,  

Director   of   TheProtection Project


John  F. Kennedy School  of Government

Dorchen     Leidholdt,    Co-Executive



Coalition Against Trafficking in Women


Robin Morgan, Founder

The  Sisterhood  Is  Global  Institute


Julia Scott, President

National Black  Women’s Health Project


Eleanor Smeal, President

The Feminist Majority


Gloria Steinem, Founder

Ms. Magazine


Leslie R. Wolfe, President

Center   for   Women  Policy   Studies