Public Health and Trafficking in PersonsOffice to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
March 9, 2004
Trafficking Undermines Public Health
"Trafficking brutalizes men, women, and children, exposing them to rape, torture, and to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted and infectious diseases, violence, dangerous working conditions, poor nutrition, and drug and alcohol addiction. Increasing numbers of adults and children trafficked into prostitution as well as street children are contracting HIV/AIDS. Trafficked children are less likely to participate in immunization programs, defeating government efforts to eradicate early childhood diseases. Severe psychological trauma from separation, coercion, sexual abuse, and depression often leads to a life of crime, drug and alcohol addiction, and sexual violence." [Excerpt from 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report]
Public Health and the Law
U.S. law recognizes the health and public health risks associated with trafficking in persons. The following U.S. laws address aspects of health and human trafficking:
- Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-386):
- Section 102.b.3 [PDF: 308KB ] acknowledges that trafficking in persons involves significant violations of public health standards worldwide.
- Section 102.b.11 [PDF: 308KB ]: "Trafficking exposes victims to serious health risks. Women and children trafficked in the sex industry are exposed to deadly diseases, including HIV and AIDS. Trafficking victims are sometimes worked or physically brutalized to death."
- Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act H.R. 2620 (2003):
- Section 112A.3 [PDF: 70KB ] includes research initiatives on the interrelationship between trafficking in persons and global health risks.
- U.S. Leadership on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 addresses prostitution and trafficking in persons in the context of HIV/AIDS prevention:
- Section 2(23) [PDF: 231KB ] : "...the sex industry, the trafficking of individuals into such industry, and sexual violence are additional causes of and factors in the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic."
- Section 101(a)(4) [PDF: 231KB ] : "...a comprehensive...strategy to combat global HIV/AIDS...eradicating prostitution, the sex trade...and sexual exploitation of women and children..."
President Bush called on the members of the United Nations to combat human trafficking in his United Nations General Assembly address in September 2003. He also emphasized his commitment with "$50 million to support the good work of organizations that are rescuing women and children from exploitation, and giving them shelter and medical treatment and the hope of a new life. I urge other governments to do their part."