Definitions of Trafficking
Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000
compiled by Carol
SEC. 102. PURPOSES AND FINDINGS.
(a) PURPOSES- The purposes of this division are to combat trafficking
in persons, a contemporary manifestation of slavery whose victims are
predominantly women and children, to ensure just and effective punishment
of traffickers, and to protect their victims.
SEC. 103. Definitions
(3) COMMERCIAL SEX ACT- The term `commercial sex act' means any sex
act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by
(8) SEVERE FORMS OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS- The term 'severe forms of
trafficking in persons' means--
(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 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.
(9) SEX TRAFFICKING- The term `sex trafficking' means the recruitment,
harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the
purpose of a commercial sex act.
(13) VICTIM OF A SEVERE FORM OF TRAFFICKING- The term `victim of a severe
form of trafficking' means a person subject to an act or practice described
in paragraph (8).
(14) VICTIM OF TRAFFICKING- The term `victim of trafficking' means a
person subjected to an act or practice described in paragraph (8) or
SEC. 105. INTERAGENCY TASK FORCE TO MONITOR AND COMBAT TRAFFICKING.
(a) ESTABLISHMENT- The President shall establish an Interagency Task
Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking.
SEC. 106. PREVENTION OF TRAFFICKING.
(b) PUBLIC AWARENESS AND INFORMATION- The President, acting through
the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services,
the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State, shall establish and
carry out programs to increase public awareness, particularly among
potential victims of trafficking, of the dangers of trafficking and
the protections that are available for victims of trafficking.
SEC. 107. PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE FOR VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING.
(b) Victims in the United States-
(A) ELIGIBILITY FOR BENEFITS AND SERVICES- Notwithstanding title IV
of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act
of 1996, an alien who is a victim of a severe form of trafficking in
persons shall be eligible for benefits and services under any Federal
or State program or activity funded or administered by any official
or agency described in subparagraph (B) to the same extent as an alien
who is admitted to the United States as a refugee under section 207
of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
(A) IN GENERAL.--Subject to the availability of appropriations, the
Attorney General may make grants to States, Indian tribes, units of
local government, and nonprofit, nongovernmental victims' service organizations
to develop, expand, or strengthen victim service programs for victims
Commentary on US Law: Commercial
Sex and Trafficking
"How Many Trafficked Women Does It Take To..."
by Carol Leigh
US law defines trafficking broadly, to include all commercial sex, porn,
stripping, etc. (Although this definition is 'non-operational' in regard
to criminal law, this definition can have some impact on anti-trafficking
campaigns and politicies.) It is a synonym for pimping, OR promoting
any commercial sex. The (TVPA-Trafficking Victim's Protection Act 2000
and subsequent TVPRA reauthorizations) positions the US against the
legal (and illegal, ofcourse) sex industry. There had been a great deal
of debate and around definitions of trafficking in international contexts,
as seen above. This debate surrounded construction of the TVPA as well.
The definition of trafficking, in fact, has been the central issue.
church groups and anti-prostitution feminists sought a definition
of trafficking which would include and EMPHASIZE all commercial sex.
The TVPA ultimately reflects this perspective.
The most problematic aspects are the definitions of commercial sex and
sex trafficking. If sex traffcking is commercial sex and commercial
sex is "any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to
or received by any person," then, in this context, all sex workers are
victims of sex trafficking, and the partner who trades for domestic
survival (or a new washer) is a victim of trafficking. This construct
defines Nevada brothel owners, strip club owners and clients as traffickers
and all strippers (by definition), porn actresses and phone sex operators
as trafficked persons.
Construct of Definitions of Trafficking:
US Against Commercial Sex Industries
The TVPA divides trafficking into "severe trafficking" and "sex trafficking."
The term trafficking includes both of these. Below is a summary of which
aspects of the TVPA apply to which types of trafficking.
The TVPA is supposed to "combat trafficking in persons, a contemporary
manifestation of slavery whose victims are predominantly women and children,
to ensure just and effective punishment of traffickers, and to protect
their victims." Although there are no punishments specifically for sex
trafficking (commercial sex) the law says that the country is committed
to combat commercial sex.
The increased jail sentences in the TVPA do not apply to "sex trafficking,"
but to "severe trafficking."
Protection and Assistance
Protection and assistance are only available for 'victims of severe
Although there are no punishments, and no funds available for individuals,
there is money for groups to work at combating commercial sex, and a
process for investigation. Specifically Sec 107 provides grants to States,
Indian tribes, units of local government, and nonprofit, nongovernmental
victims' service organizations to develop, expand, or strengthen victim
service programs for victims of trafficking. For more information about
funding priorities, see US
AID Strategy Prohibits Funds to Groups Supporting Sex Worker Rights
(Page 7) "Organizations advocating prostitution as an employment
choice or which advocate or support the legalization of prostitution
are not appropriate partners for USAID anti-trafficking grants or contracts.
Missions will avoid contracting or assistance agreements with such organizations
as primary or sub-grantees or contractors." (Note:
This was declared unconstitutional in 2012, only so far as it applies
to US groups working abroad, but this still applies to foreign NGOs.
Numerous dynamics have resulted in this principle applying to domestic
In fact, the Department of Justice, in national stings, target commercial
sex businesses using other federal laws. These businesses were not involved
in forced prostitution and had no reports of abuses, but these investigations
and arrests became the target of this administration.
Below is an example of a benefit given to victims of servere trafficking
which is not afforded to victims of trafficking. In other words, if
a business is raided, workers may not be given information or translation
services unless they claim (or the police believe) they have been forced,
coerced, duped and kidnapped.
(2) ACCESS TO INFORMATION.--Victims of severe forms of trafficking shall
have access to information about their rights and translation services.
Also visit this
critique of trends in federal prostitution legislation for information
about how the anti-trafficking framework encompasses domestic commercial
sex, even in voluntary contexts.