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Children have been the victims of sex trafficking for thousands of years. This practice, going on throughout the centuries, finally became a political issue in the early 1900s. In 1902, the International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic was drafted. Its purpose was to "prevent the procuration of women and girls for immoral purposes abroad" (Protection of Human, 2012). A few years later it was ratified by twelve countries around the world. This eventually led to the United States passing the Mann Act of 1910 which "forbids transporting a person across state or international lines for prostitution or other immoral purposes" (Protection of Human, 2012). With the problem of sex trafficking still growing in the middle of the century, the United Nations felt it necessary to address the problem. This was done by the 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others which was ratified by forty-nine countries around the world (Protection of Human, 2012).

In 2000, Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA), which created the first comprehensive federal law to address trafficking, with a significant focus on the international dimension of the problem. The law provides a three-pronged approach: prevention through public awareness programs overseas and a State Department-led monitoring and sanctions program; protection through a new T Visa and services for foreign national victims; and prosecution through new federal crimes and severe penalties (FBI, 2011).

As a result of the passing of the VTVPA, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons was established in October 2001. This enabling legislation led to the creation of a bureau within the State Department to specifically address human trafficking and exploitation on all levels and to take legal action against perpetrators. Additionally, this act was designed to enforce all laws within the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that apply (FBI, 2011).

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency estimates that 50,000 people are trafficked into or transited through the United States annually as sex slaves, domestics, garment, and agricultural slaves (Human Trafficking, 2010). Some trafficking victims, responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the United States, migrate willingly—legally and illegally—and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude or debt bondage at work sites or in commercial sex (Human Trafficking, 2010).

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  • Almost 300,000 American children are at risk for trafficking into the sex industry (U.S. Dept of

  • There are girls as young as 5 and 6 years old in the U.S. that are forced to do sexual acts for economic gain by their pimp (USDOJ, 2010).
  • In the first 21 months of operation, the Human Trafficking Reporting System recorded information on more than 1,200 alleged incidents of human trafficking between January 1, 2007, and September 30, 2008. Most (83%) of the reported human trafficking incidents involved allegations of sex trafficking (USDOJ, 2010).
  • In 2009, a three day operation across 36 cities across 30 FBI divisions around the U.S. led to the recovery of 52 children who were being victimized through prostitution. Additionally, nearly 700 others, including 60 pimps, were arrested on local and state charges (FBI, 2009).

Here you can read more about the VTVPAhttp://www.state.gov/documents/organization/10492.pdf

Learn about the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/