I’m having a difficult time understanding this post at Feministing. As far as I can tell, the post author prefers that the federal government NOT “waste time” investigating cases where pimps claim that trafficked, prostituted people are “free to leave.”
The author claims that if this law (which at least she links to, unlike the allegedly problematic House amendment, H.R. 3887) (see “fact sheet” overview of this law here) is amended in some mysterious way that she describes as “remov[ing] all together the requirement that force, fraud, or coercion be present in instances of commercial sex,” then there will be “delays” in investigating other cases of trafficking. She provides no evidentiary basis for this claim in the post. We are apparently just supposed to believe that by declining to investigate sex trafficking, the federal government will pay more attention to other trafficked people. She disengenuously gives the example of a women who has been waiting a long time to have her trafficking case investigated. Was this delay caused by H.R. 3887? No, because it has not passed the Senate, no less become law. But if it does, the resources the government devotes to human trafficking will actually increase! Needless to say, the Feministing post does not mention this inconvenient fact.
There is a fair amount of dishonest pro-prostitution cheerleading going on at Feministing here, and the fact that the post is long on instrumental outrage but short on specifics is deeply appalling and incredibly suspicious. The text of H.R. 3387 is public information. It was sponsored by Rep. Tom Lantos [D-California] and cosponsored by 42 others, including Rep. Carolyn Maloney [D-New York], who has been written about with great admiration by Feministing bloggers in the past, she was even their “Woman of the Week” once. If not to their readers, don’t the folks at Feminsting at least owe it to Maloney to explain exactly what they think the problem with this bill is, and why?
Updated to add: The United Nations estimates that some 80% of persons trafficked are trafficked for sexual exploitation, most of whom are women and children. These are the folks Podkul doesn’t want to “waste” money helping?
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) enacted in 2000 is aimed at combating trafficking in persons, whose victims are predominantly women and children, to ensure punishment of traffickers and to protect its victims. While this law has strengthened anti-trafficking measures, it has also proven to be a difficult tool particularly in the prosecution of sex trafficking cases because of the proof requirements of”force, fraud and coercion.” Many victims of trafficking have been lured, deceived or coerced into sexual or labor servitude. Many victims of trafficking know their traffickers. Proving that”force, fraud and coercion”was used at any given time or at all times of trafficking victims’ labor or sexual servitude is ineffective in prosecuting trafficking cases. This”force, fraud, coercion”requirement poses a significant burden on victims, who are often reluctant to testify for a number of reasons, including fear or mistrust of law enforcement, threats by traffickers to harm them or their families or traumatic bonding with their captors. The proof of”force, fraud and coercion”is so onerous for federal prosecutors, that less than 70 sex trafficking cases have been successfully prosecuted since the TVPA was passed.
Owing to this and other inadequacies under the TVPA and because its funding provisions are expiring, new legislation, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3887) aimed at strengthening the TVPA is making its way through Congress. On December 4, 2007, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 3887 (405 to 2), which strengthens the TVPA as it incorporates language from the federal Mann Act that criminalizes anyone who transports a person across state lines for purposes of prostitution, making it much easier to prosecute sex trafficking cases. The Mann Act language would lower the burden of proof by just showing that the individual”persuaded, induced or enticed”a person into prostitution “in or affecting interstate commerce.” The TVPRA also includes provisions that make sex tourism a crime and provides trafficking victims increased protection and services.
It is now up to the Senate to pass H.R. 3887. In January 2008, Equality Now in collaboration with the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), The Feminist Majority, and the National Organization for Women (NOW) wrote a joint letter (PDF 228K) to Senator Joseph Biden and Senator Sam Brownback, reported co-sponsors of the anti-trafficking reauthorization bill, urging each of them to pass the Wilberforce Act as soon as possible.
UPDATE 2: Like Podkul, the Bush Justice Department opposes this bill. Why? In part, BECAUSE IT WILL HELP PROSTITUTED WOMEN. The Bush DOJ’s objections to the bill are articulated here. Among them:
- It will require the DOJ to “waste” money helping adult trafficking victims, when all the DOJ wants to do is help children. Because in Bush World only child victims are innocent enough to be deserving of help?
- It “authorizes federal Victims of Crime Act funds to be provided to prostitutes.” Oh, the horror! Of course Bush’s DOJ does not want to help prostitutes financially. But why doesn’t Podkul?
- It “would allow trafficking victims to stay in the United States pending resolution of a civil suit they filed against the traffickers who had victimized them.” Goddess forbid the victims should get to see their day in court! Of course the Bush Administration wants to deport coerced prostitutes. It doesn’t consider them human.
Hey, guess what else? The Bush DOJ funds Ayuda, Podkul’s employer! What an unexpected coincidence. Not.