Federal Anti-Trafficking Laws

Human trafficking is also known as Trafficking in Persons (TIP). It is the neomodern form of slavery, and it's a crime under international law. Human trafficking involves a trafficker using fraud, force, or coercion to make someone else, a victim, perform labor or commercial sex. TIP is a very violent business and operates against fundamental human rights.

Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)

TVPA of 2002 was the first comprehensive federal law against human trafficking. It was further reauthorized in 2003, 2005, 2008, 2013, and 2017 under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).

Under the U.S federal law, there are forms of severe forms of trafficking in persons. The main ones are sex and labor trafficking.

Sex trafficking is recruitment, transporting, harboring, provision, or obtaining a person for sex, usually done by force, coercion, or fraud. When the person is under the age of 18, it is child trafficking. Labor trafficking is recruitment, harboring, transporting, or obtaining a person for labor services done by force, coercion, or fraud.

Definitions of TVPA

TVPA has a 3-P approach that includes prevention, protection, and prosecution against crimes of human trafficking. Here are the types of trafficking in persons:

  • Involuntary servitude. Involuntary servitude is a form of servitude that uses fear of physical harm or legal abuse if the person refuses to work under the stated conditions. The conditions are usually inhumane and difficult to work.

  • Debt Slavery. It is working off a debt over an indefinite amount of time. The work given is usually arduous and under brutal conditions. The debtor has the ultimate power to decide when the debt is paid off; it never seems to be paid off.

  • Coercion. It involves working under serious threats of physical harm or restraints to the person. The trafficker limits the victim's basic needs, offering them as 'gifts' for their work.

  • Commercial Sex Act. It is defined as any sexual act exchanged with anything of value. Victims are usually coerced into performing the said sexual acts.

Key Provisions of TVPA


  • Prevention entails creating a place where trafficking is monitored. A head of state might decide to impose sanctions on nations that fail to comply with the regulations set to reduce trafficking.

  • There's a need for public awareness and programs where people can learn more about trafficking. Additionally, international development programs can be used to help the victims.

  • A federal taskforce would help in enhancing and implementing TVPA.


  • International trafficking victims are protected through the national protection program. The victims benefit from education, health care opportunities, training for jobs, and community service programs.

  • Protection also provides victims with the T Visa. The visa allows the trafficked victims to gain United States residency. Additionally, in some cases, the visa might be used for the family of the trafficked victims. Mostly, T Visa is given to people trafficked to the United States and are still present in the country.


  • Through prosecution, trafficking of people is a federal crime. The crime is, however, punished severely.

  • Additionally, through prosecution, forced labor is also criminalized. You can also be prosecuted if you attempt human trafficking.

  • After the prosecution, trafficked victims need to be paid.

Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act 2015 (JVTA)

The justice for victims of trafficking act improves the United States fight against TIP. It contains amendments that strengthen the services offered to the victims. JVTA also has created a domestic trafficking fund to support victim's assistance programs and block grants for child trafficking deterrence programs. There are also training requirements for first responders. The JVTA amended the law to include child pornography and human trafficking as forms of child abuse.

Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act

The laws strengthen existing laws on child welfare, including the foster system and adoption processes. In 2014, the law was enacted to help identify youth and children at a high risk of sex trafficking or are sex trafficking victims. The law aims to improve the response of the state to sex trafficking cases.

Protocols have been implemented to help locate runaway children and record the circumstances they faced when away from care. These instances are recorded and reported to law enforcement that later conveys the data to the national congress.

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