Federal Human and Sex Trafficking Laws – What You Need to Know

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It is recognized by the United Nations as a violation of human rights. Trafficking in any form is reprehensible. The National Human Trafficking Hotline defines sex trafficking as “a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Minors under the age of 18 engaging in commercial sex are considered to be victims of human trafficking, regardless of the use of force, fraud, or coercion.” Most of the victims of this abuse are recruited or deceived into the sex trade or human trafficking arena. Hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women and teen girls, are working in the sex industry across the United States as victims of sex trafficking, and some of the statistics are shocking.

Nationwide sex trafficking statistics

The National Human Trafficking Hotline provides one of the most up to date and largest datasets regarding human and sex trafficking across the country. The Hotline connects victims, survivors or concerned parties with the support and resources they need to get help. The Hotline reports that, from January to December 2018, they had 41,088 contacts – via either phone call, text, webchat, contact form or email. In that same period, the Hotline identified:

  • 23,078 trafficking victims and survivors
  • 10,949 trafficking cases
  • 5,859 potential traffickers
  • 1,905 suspicious businesses

The most prevalent form of trafficking in the United States: sex trafficking.

Federal human sex trafficking legislation

There was no specific legislation even addressing human trafficking in the United States until 2000. Congress then passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The TVPA established federal guidelines and methods for prosecuting traffickers and protecting survivors and victims of trafficking. It also established human trafficking as a federal crime and felony with severe penalties attached, as well as mandating restitution to victims.

Depending on the circumstances of the trafficking, the number of victims and the age of the victims involved, a trafficker could receive anywhere from five years to life in prison if convicted.

The Act also established a committee to provide yearly reports on worldwide efforts to fight human trafficking, as well as created a special visa for trafficking victims and their families to become temporary U.S. residents.

Over the years, the TVPA has been reauthorized and updated, adding:

  • Civil rights of action for victims to sue their traffickers
  • Trafficking to list of crimes under the RICO statute
  • Protections for victims and families from deportation
  • Pilot program to shelter minor victims of trafficking
  • Grants to assist state and local anti-trafficking programs
  • Expanded measures to fight global human trafficking
  • Requiring the government inform all work-based visa applicants of workers’ rights
  • New systems to gather and report human trafficking data
  • Enhanced criminal sanctions against traffickers
  • Expanded definitions of trafficking for easier prosecution
  • Strengthened programs to prevent child marriage
  • Emergency response provisions to prevent trafficking in disaster and crisis areas

The charity organization Polaris keeps a list of updated federal laws regarding trafficking. Our attorneys can provide more information about Federal and South Carolina human and sex trafficking laws to anyone in need.

You may contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or text “help” to 233733 if you are a victim or suspect sex trafficking is happening in your community.

If you’re a survivor or victim of human trafficking, we want to help. Talk to the experienced and compassionate attorneys at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC today. If you only want to talk with a female attorney, that is always available. Our goal is to provide you the highest degree of legal assistance possible within a framework where you are comfortable. We will fight for justice on your behalf and keep working to help others. Call us at 803-327-7800 or reach out to us through our contact page. We serve clients throughout South Carolina and the United States.

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