Why the newly passed sex trafficking bill might be doing more harm than good.
What does Loretta Lynch – President Obama’s Attorney General nominee – and this sad eight-year-old boy who’s waiting to be picked-up have in common?
They both should have been picked-up by bickering adults long ago.
At least that wait looks to be finally over.
Yesterday Senate leaders announced that they had come to an agreement in regards to a human trafficking bill in which Republicans were holding off voting on Lynch’s nomination unless abortion coverage was removed from the legislation.
Now if you’re sitting there wondering, “what does Lynch’s Attorney General nomination and a bill on human trafficking have in common?” Then congratulations are in order. You’ve discovered the inherit logical fallacy – because the two things have nothing is common – where as a chamber of a hundred US senators would probably guess “logical fallacy” to be the name of a wealthy donor’s new boat!
But I guess everything worked out for the best.
Loretta Lynch – from everything we know about her – should be a strong Attorney General and a bill that combats the business of sex trafficking is fantastic legislation, especially when you consider the usual child’s tee-ball like standards we judge Congress on.
So we’re all good, right?
It’s always something. So what’s in this human trafficking bill then?
Well, the bill is called Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (or JVTA for short) and it essentially combats human trafficking by expanding the government’s “tough-on-crime” strategy. It focuses on strongly penalizing offenders – with large fines and considerable jail time – making sure to deter individuals that even want to enter this insidious business. These measures include creating a new Domestic Trafficking Victim’s Fund from the fines collected from the perpetrators as well as training more officers and prosecutors to combat the epidemic.
Wow this all sounds fantastic! So why is that old guy from ‘Breaking Bad’ so displeased then?
While many pro-choice advocates will be displeased by the new clause in the bill that no longer uses the Domestic Trafficking Victim’s Fund for health services – which include abortion services that don’t pertain to cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother – let’s push that aside for the moment. Because while the debate over abortion services is a major issue when dealing with sex trafficking, JVTA could be doing more harm than good even if you don’t take the subject of abortion services into account!
Many advocates against sex trafficking have been vocal in expressing that the bill itself could make life more difficult for the victims it wants to protect. As RH Reality Check – a publication that focuses on reproductive and sexual health – states, by using such a blanketed strategy on sex trafficking you are implementing everyone in the process. This could include individuals that were legitimately trying to help sex workers like family members or support-systems. The example they give is a friend or family member of a sex worker getting arrested for even giving them a ride to their job.
The JVTA legislation is similar to dealing with a mouse problem in your house. But instead of strategically placing traps to where the mouse has been, you decide the only course of action to fixing this problem would be to burn your entire house down!
While good news, you dealt with the mouse problem, the bad news however, you now sleep in your car in a Denny’s parking lot.
The basic problem with the JTVA legislation is that it targets on the demand of sex, rather the underlining problem of those sex workers forced into selling themselves, whether that be through economic hardships or threats of violence. If Congress really wants to tackle the problems of sex trafficking they have to start recognizing that it stems from issues regarding poverty and a lack of education among young women.
Otherwise all Congress is really doing with the JTVA legislation is putting a comically large Hello Kitty Band-Aid on the Mortal Kombat like wound that is sex trafficking. Or as we’ve come to know it as, congressional action.
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