human rights, trafficking


Globally, hundreds of thousands-perhaps millions-are being forced or coerced into commercial sex acts. In the United States, this sex trafficking problem has become a lucrative illegal industry, and it is quickly growing. In response, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) to eradicate the industry by prosecuting the perpetrators, protecting the victims, and preventing the practice. Through several reauthorizations, one federal strategy that has emerged is compensating the victims through mandatory criminal restitution and civil remedies. Collection of restitution damages has been lacking, however, and no civil suit filed for sex trafficking survivors has reached the merits. This Comment argues that the lack of access to compensation is a result of lawmakers' failure to understand the victim's experience. Most sex trafficking survivors have a host of issues that the TVPA, as currently authorized, does not accommodate. This Comment recommends modest changes to the TVPA that would help victims gain access to compensatory remedies without compromising collateral efforts to eradicate sex trafficking. Taking cues from stated U.S. policy objectives in the TVPA and other federal legislation, this Comment proposes expanding immigration relief, sharpening prosecutorial efforts, and heightening government accountability-all toward the goal of compensating and empowering survivors of sex trafficking.

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