The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), is considered by many as the most effective anti-trafficking law ever passed. The intention of this Act was to control, and eventually, eradicate human trafficking on a global scale. It was first introduced in the year 2000, after which it was reauthorized in 2003, 2005 and 2008. When it was amended in 2008, it was given the alternate title of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, in honour of William Wilberforce, a leader in the movement to abolish slave trade. This Act was designed to keep track of human trafficking activities around the world, with the help of an international database that divided countries into tiers, based on their compliance with the TVPA’s minimum standards.

In truth, the TVPA does next to nothing to combat human trafficking.

In 2011, the TVPA was considered no longer valid, or in a sense, had expired. In 2013, in an effort to reap what little benefits the TVPA provided, the US government attached the entire law as an amendment to the Violence against Women Act.

Then there comes the point of it being proposed and created by the USA. While I, personally, have nothing against America, laws that are made and enacted by one country alone will generally not be as effective as they were intended to be. What stops the US from being biased in its classification of countries, and from keeping the information it records to itself? The Act itself was enacted by the 106th US Congress, and the Violence against Women Act, to which it is now attached, is also a United States federal law. The fact remains, that an act proposed by an international organization, such as the UN, is much more effective than an act of similar nature, proposed by a lone nation. International organizations tend to receive more support, in general, from countries around the world. Who’s to say that countries who oppose America’s dominance in world politics, will actually follow the TVPA’s terms?

And up next, the cons of the classification system of the TVPA. It divides countries into three tiers, where Tier-1 has a good system to combat human trafficking, Tier-2 does not, but the country’s government is doing all it can, and where in Tier-3, human trafficking is everywhere, and no one’s doing anything to stop it. To prove my point, let me take the example of Germany. This country has more convictions of human trafficking than most Tier-3 nations. This may seem as a plus, because the government has managed to catch the bad guys, but it’s not. Perpetrators of human trafficking, in many cases, were not required to serve jail time. In fact, they walked away with no punishment, except for a conviction added to their file. Obviously, this will probably not deter these twisted people from their practice. In this respect, Germany is infamous for its prosecution measures in the field of human trafficking. And despite its efforts to comply with the TVPA, Germany has seen a rise, an actual rise, in human trafficking. And guess what? Germany was put in the first Tier.

If that’s not enough, allow me to guide you through the TVPA’s protection protocols. Protection refers to the act of providing refuge and rehabilitation to victims of this horrendous crime. The TVPA’s policy on such protocols, is actually  at least as bad as the crime itself. The United States government reports that since 2001, only around 1,100 victims have been granted the benefits of the TVPA. In contrast, the United States government estimates that around 16,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year. This clearly indicates a failure in the guidelines of the TVPA, to identify and protect all those who are trafficked into the United States. The main issue is the qualifications for these benefits.

Imagine, if you would, that you have been kidnapped by human traffickers, and have been brought into the US. You manage to escape your attackers. Scared, alone, and in a country you have never been to, you manage to make your way to a police precinct. Instead of immediately providing you with the rehabilitation you need after such trauma, you are required to prove your story. Yes, I kid you not. They need honest-to-god proof.

Because, according to the TVPA, victims are required to prove their eligibility, before they can receive the aforementioned benefits. You have to be able to identify your attackers, and be ready with your travel journal, because you’re going to have to tell the story of your entire trip. This is probably the only reason why the US screwed up in its efforts to help these victims.

The most simple solution would be to pass a law that has been agreed upon by all the nations that will be making use of it. Collaborate with other countries, and make eradicating human trafficking the main point. Provide rehabilitation first, ask questions later. It’s not as if these people are just waiting to tell their horrifying, traumatic tales of kidnap and slavery. And if classification is necessary, classify on the basis of numbers in humans trafficked, rather than numbers of humans caught trafficking. Create a database, an Intersect, if you will, where countries and intelligence agencies share their information regarding perpetrators of trafficking. This will be more effective in tracking down large scale trafficking groups, and releasing any victims. Do anything that will benefit the fight against human trafficking. Just don’t ask probable victims for postcards from their trip across the Atlantic.

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