The forces of globalization that have transformed nation states over the last decade and more have created a merely of opportunities and enhanced living circumstances for people around the world. The world has shrunk and transport between countries has become more fluid and open, permitting a free flow of ideas and cultural exchanges. This, coupled with technological advances, has produced bountiful economic opportunities for people to raise their standard of living and their ability to access new worlds and economic opportunities.
At the same time, this increased mobility and free flow of people and information has also underpinned elements of criminal activity that have severely abused the human rights of global citizens. Human trafficking for the sex trade has become a prominent issue on the international rights landscape as young women and girls, particularly, from developing or failed nations are becoming victimized in this global marketplace. Criminal elements have exploited and victimized young women with eye for profit (Bruckert, 2002).
The federal government of the United States has answered the call to fight this trend, and has thus established legislation and other initiatives since 2000 that have worked to curtail sex trafficking by government contractors abroad who have engaged in the practice, while also developing an international protocol and standards for nations across the globe to enhance their record and infrastructure in combatting human trafficking in the sex trade (Danailova-Trainor, 2006; Shelley, 2003). The U.S. State Department and Congress have become leaders in coordinating and leading the world in responding to the evolving threat sex-trafficking prostitution presents to the nation. Ultimately, this paper will argue that human trafficking in the sex trade is a global issue that both federal and local authorities throughout the world should continue to address vigilantly as its existence undermines the very aims of freedom and opportunity that the global community seeks to provide for citizens around the world.
Coordination between federal and local authorities, buttressed by the continued research and messaging from international bodies such as the United Nations and Red Cross, is essential for both preventing and eventually eradicating the practice, thereby ensuring the liberty and seamless access to the promise of opportunity and growth the global community endeavors to provide its members (Ergas, 2012). The efforts of international agencies in exposing the global nature of sex trafficking have motivated the federal government to enact legislation in the United States to curtail the proliferation of the practice. In 2012, U.S. Congressmen and women Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) introduced the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act (Office of Richard Blumenthal, 2012).
The law recognized the suffering people are enduring because of sparse legislation in the United States being exploited by government contractors. The law appeals to voters particularly as their tax dollars are being used to fund such base activities (2012). The piece of legislation recognized that in excess of 70,000 third country nationals, recruited from nations such as Bangladesh, Fiji, and the Philippines, work for contractors and subcontractors of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition, the Defense Department, State Department, and USAID also have relied on illegal workers to execute these activities. The potential for secondary markets to emerge in sex trafficking emerge as these workers lack recourse to ensure their rights (2012). These workers often have their passports confiscated, and are encumbered by heavy debts and low wages making them susceptible to harassment and sexual abuse. In response to this threat, the legislation introduced attempted to establish protocols, accountability and enforcement measurements for contractors.
From a preventative stand point, the law requires contractors with work in excess of $1 million to mandate compliance measures to preclude trafficking, including passport destruction and confiscation, wage manipulation as well as engaging in activities that facilitate the execution and support of commercial sex practices and acts (Jones, 2007). The bill stipulates that contractors must inform the Inspector General of any impropriety rooted in compelling in evidence. Failure to comply with this mandate, carries the penalty of losing contracts with the government and applicable criminal charges.
The first legislation against trafficking and prostitution in the United States was enacted in 2000. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) addressed sex trafficking and labor trafficking, focussing on prevention and protection for victims and the prosecution of culprits (Jesionka, 2013). The law subsequently was reauthorized in 2003, 2005, and 2008 as the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). In 2013, another bill was reintroduced to the U.S. Congress to enable authorities to better monitor and prosecute sex tourism, and fosters a grant-making program to preclude trafficking in humanitarian crises like in Syria.
Combating human trafficking in the sex trade is a profound opportunity for federal and state governments to demonstrate their commitment and ability to eradicate social scourges that impact both the domestic and international community. Permitting the practice to proliferate will erodes the values of freedom and opportunity that the global community endeavors to establish for citizens across the globe. The continued integration of resources between federal and local governmental bodies, supported the advocacy, research and messaging from international agencies, will continue to prove invaluable in eradicating the practice from society, so that women around the world are guaranteed security and the right to thrive.