The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


For the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to truly meet its twin aims of the prosecution of traffickers and the protection of victims, it must be reformed. The current overemphasis on the prosecution of traffickers renders the TVPA an ineffective tool for providing aid to victims of human trafficking. Trusting law enforcement officers to identify victims without proper training may lead to victims of more severe trafficking being denied benefits. Further, by providing benefits only to those who agree to cooperate with law enforcement, the TVPA denies assistance and protection to those who may be too scared or traumatized to effectively assist law enforcement. To further both aims of the TVPA, three major revisions should be considered so both the prosecution of traffickers and the protection of victims occurs. First, main hubs of trafficking must be identified so that more resources may be moved to those areas to combat human trafficking. Second, the funds sent to governments abroad should be repurposed to fund the training and resources for law enforcement and mental health practitioners for the hubs. Because human trafficking often originates in countries with weak economies and unstable governments, this reallocation would better prepare domestic officials to apprehend criminals that have yet to be deterred. Finally, and most importantly, mental health assistance must be funded from initial contact and beyond. Not only would this boost the capability of the victim to cooperate with prosecution, it would allow for victims to more successfully reintegrate back into their community.

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