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All crimes have certain elements that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and/or the alleged offender must enter a “guilty” plea. Sex trafficking is a crime under the federal law and it can be used to prosecute traffickers. 


The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) has gone through many versions and is currently an amendment to the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act but can still be used to protect sex trafficking victims of all genders and sexes.


Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex actis induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age . (22 USC § 7102)


Sex Trafficking of Children or by Force, Fraud, or Coercion is as causing a person to engage in a commercial sex act under certain statutorily enumerated conditions. A commercial sex act means any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person. The specific conditions are the use of force, fraud, or coercion, or conduct involving persons under the age of 18.


The punishment for conduct that involves a victim who is under the age of 14 or involves force, fraud, or coercion is any term of years not less than 15 or life. (18 U.S.C. § 1591) **Note that the punishment for conduct that involves a victim between the ages of 14 and 18 is not less than 10 years and up to life if there was no force, threat of force, fraud, or coercion.


The Trafficking Victims Protection Act  is the federal anti-trafficking law that created certain protections for victims of trafficking that help with the prosecution of the alleged trafficker. The TVPA also established the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking which runs a comprehensive site that includes explanations and updates on the TVPA.


For more information about the Trafficking Victims Protection Act visit the National Human Trafficking Resource Center's federal law page which provides a good recap of the laws impact and several links to the relevant provisions and definitions. Polaris project also has a useful fact sheet on the TVPA.


For a general overview of trafficking, federal law, and Indian Country, please visit here for a powerpoint presentation on those topics which includes a very helpful timeline of the relevant federal laws. Also, the Department of Justice runs a Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, that keeps track of recent developments at the federal level.

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