New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

Document Type

Article

Comments

Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender, Vol. 12, pp. 885-907, 2006

Abstract

International law has long prohibited sex trafficking. The current international legal framework on sex trafficking sets forth a three-pronged approach to anti-trafficking efforts: (1) criminalization of acts of trafficking, (2) trafficking prevention programs, and (3) aid for victims of trafficking. To date, efforts undertaken by various countries have focused primarily on the first component, with comparatively minimal resources being allocated to prevention or victim assistance programs. Those countries that have initiated prevention measures tend to adopt a narrow view of "prevention programs" – focusing on activities such as public awareness campaigns warning of the penalties associated with such crimes or informing children and their families of the dangers of sex trafficking.

This Article calls for a much broader conception of prevention programs in order to address systemic issues (e.g., racism, sexism, and poverty) that allow trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of poor and marginalized individuals to continue. Human rights law offers valuable guidance in developing more comprehensive strategies for preventing sex trafficking. Sustainable solutions require greater attention to "other rights" embodied in human rights law, which can supplement the legal provisions covering trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of persons. The author examines selected other rights including those that cover gender-based violence, various forms of discrimination, birth registration, health, and education, with a view to addressing systemic issues that foster the current climate in which sex trafficking thrives. Ensuring these other rights will help states fulfill their obligations under international law to prevent sex trafficking. Moreover, these individual rights, when fully ensured, will strengthen communities by improving health and education standards and reducing discrimination and marginalization of certain populations. Such improvements will help promote sustainable economic development, which in turn will reinforce respect for human rights.

Date of Authorship for this Version

August 2006