October 14, 2013
Use of “Prostitution” in The Definition of Human Trafficking
In 2000, the United States enacted a comprehensive domestic law on trafficking entitled the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Also in 2000, the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Person, Especially in Women and Children, designated new international regulations for human trafficking. Both of these documents define trafficking as:
…the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime).
The U.N.’s definition of human trafficking includes several components in addition to prostitution, but the inclusion of it in the definition confuses the meaning of human trafficking by placing a voluntary act along with a series of involuntary acts, which alters the laws and policies being made. Webster’s dictionary defines prostitution as a verb: “the act or practice of engaging in promiscuous relations for money,” and a prostitute as: “a person who deliberately debases his or her talents (as for money)” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). A trafficking victim is by no means “deliberately debasing” herself/himself.
In contrast, human trafficking is slavery, and a form of forced labor, where a person is being victimized, and in every way illegal. By defining human trafficking separate from prostitution,...