Regional Sex Trafficking
In France, sex trafficking and sex slavery is a significant issue. To be honest, it’s a much bigger issue than I thought it would be. But that’s the nature of sex slavery and human trafficking; it’s always a bigger problem then we realize because it operates in the shadows of our society. The French government estimates that there are at least 18,000 women in the nation’s commercial sex industry, and that the majority of those women have most likely been forced into prostitution. France also has influence in several international territories, including incredibly impoverished states like French Guiana and Haiti. This begs a series of questions about the responsibility of France to stop these human rights violations.
In its Trafficking in Person Report from 2010, The United States government categorized France as a Tier 1 nation (the highest tier) when it comes to enforcing standards against human trafficking. Countries in Tier 1 are “countries whose governments fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards.” Those minimum standards, which were set in 2000, state that governments should do four basic things to encourage the elimination of human trafficking. They should 1) prohibit severe forms of trafficking and punish such acts 2) should severely punish those who force people into sex industry, either by force, coercion, rape, kidnapping or violence 3) should punish sex trafficking with sufficient punishments so as to deter sex trafficking and reflect the heinous nature of the crime, and 4) should make serious and sustained efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking. Based on this standard, the United States feels that France is fulfilling its governmental obligation to prevent sex trafficking. But of course, these preventions are primarily defined in terms of a government’s penal code, rather than it’s policies or trade politics with nations who have reputations for trafficking women. But apparently, this goes beyond the minimum expectation for a government.
UN Sustainable Development Goals
The most obvious of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals which pertains to human trafficking, and sex trafficking particular, is the goal of gender equality, which calls for the elimination of all harmful practices towards women. It cites child marriage, early marriage, forced marriage and female genital mutilation as its examples, but obviously sex trafficking falls into this category as well. And the argument for nations to respect the health and humanity of women is fairly strong. The UN argues that enacting gender equality “will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.”
I think the quickest way for underdeveloped countries that suffer from high levels of human trafficking need to enact the penal code oriented policies that were put forth by the TVPA. Simply by having governments and legal systems that harshly punish human trafficking all over the world, not just in the West, I think our world will take a big step forward towards eliminating human trafficking in our society.
I think the UN Sustainable Development Goal which will most quickly address the problem with many government’ penal codes is the goal to Promote Just, Peaceful and Inclusive Societies. Many of the targets in this goal refer to ending corruption in government and creating transparency in public institutions. I think by doing that, it will force some third-world governments that are plagued by corruption and allowed to rule with opaque autonomy to reshape its laws and penal codes to work for the people, not against them, and I think that will ultimately help reduce the level of human trafficking in our society.