The 10th anniversary Trafficking in Person’s (TIP) Report is nearly 400 pages filled with assessments of 175 different countries’ efforts to combat human trafficking. It is a monumental achievement that provides a diagnosis of the impact of human trafficking around the world. It represents the work of the TIP office staff in the State Department as well as contributions from non-government organizations (NGOs) who assess the trafficking problem at a local level in the nations where they are located.
When I first started working against human trafficking, the TIP report was a 10-page document copied on the TIP office copy machine; now it is a 372-page, slick publication. In the past, the efforts to end modern day slavery started by working to end demand. Our focus is to stop the criminals — the traffickers and the pimps — rather than arrest the victims. Those of us who are committed to abolition worked on the front lines and behind the scenes to get the right language and provisions in the most recent legislation, The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) is the latest version of the anti-trafficking legislation that first passed in 2000. The TVPRA represents the best work of the best minds and most ardent abolitionists. The final product is a carefully crafted, precisely focused, comprehensive legal framework ensuring the criminal prosecution of those who engage in human trafficking, and it builds on the previous versions of the bill to provide more effective prosecution of those who engage in commercial sexual exploitation, as well as forced labor, of children and young women.
The 2010 TIP report signals a shift of focus at the outset. In her introductory remarks, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton makes it clear that the United States, instead of being the leader in efforts to end human trafficking worldwide is merely one of the partners in confronting the “global scourge.” In his preface, Ambassador Luis CdeBaca also stresses “partnerships” as the “fourth P” in addition to prevention, protection, and prosecution. But the problems with the TIP report go much deeper than terminology.
There are three major problems with the new shift of focus in the effort to end human trafficking.