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Serving Trafficking Victims

According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), sex trafficking is a form of modern day slavery in which traffickers recruit, harbor, and transport individuals for commercial sex acts. Criminal penalties against traffickers are enacted only if the sex acts are induced by force, fraud, or coercion (defined as severe trafficking).61

Statistics show that 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked internationally every year for sexual exploitation or forced labor. Sex traffickers lure victims from communities and countries with high rates of poverty and violence. The traffickers trick victims into believing they can help them obtain a better life. Instead, traffickers imprison, rape, beat, starve, and force victims into prostitution and house them in substandard living conditions.62

Each year, 14,500 to 17,500 human trafficking victims end up in slavery in cities and rural areas throughout the United States.63 These staggering figures reflect a fundamental need for SARTs to expand alliances to meet victims' multicultural needs and collaborate on local, federal, state, and international levels.

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Consent of Victims

One of the key issues in responding to trafficking has been whether victims consent to go with the traffickers.

According to the United Nations' Trafficking in Persons Protocol, consent of the victim is irrelevant when a victim's exercise of free will is limited through force, deception, or the abuse of power. The protocol respects the ability of adults to make their own decisions about their lives, specifically regarding work and migration. However, the protocol excludes a consent-based defense in cases in which the use of improper means of obtaining consent is established.

Source: United Nations, 2006, Toolkit to Combat Trafficking in Persons, New York, NY: United Nations, p. xv.