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Trafficking: what is it?

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 defines trafficking, debt bondage, and involuntary servitude. Today, at least several millions are subjected to one or more of these human abuses.

The act’s intent is “to combat trafficking in persons, especially into the sex trade, slavery, and involuntary servitude, to reauthorize certain Federal programs to prevent violence against women, and for other purposes.”

On October 1, 2012, the act expired. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 1301) to extend funding for anti-trafficking programs has not yet been voted on by either Senate or House (as of 11/27/12). Congress reauthorized the act in 2003, 2005 and 2008.

Section 103 Definitions

(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.

Also….

(4) DEBT BONDAGE- The term `debt bondage' means the status or condition of a debtor arising from a pledge by the debtor of his or her personal services or of those of a person under his or her control as a security for debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined.

(5) INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE- The term `involuntary servitude' includes a condition of servitude induced by means of--

(A) any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that, if the person did not enter into or continue in such condition, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or

(B) the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.


The 2000 Palarmo Protocol on trafficking defines the term as follows:

"Trafficking in persons" shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs... The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth [above] shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth [above] have been used.

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