Congress as Sex Slave Factory

In 1999, the CIA estimated that 50,000 women had been trafficked into the US for sex work, and enormous resources were marshaled to find them. Few were ever located, and there are plenty of reasons to wonder about the original estimate; sources told The Washington Post the number came from a single CIA analyst who relied on clippings from foreign newspapers. Now is probably a good time to take another look at that number. But as Melissa Ditmore explains, Congress prefers to address the embarrassing lack of victims by creating more of them:

The House version of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act would expand U.S. laws against prostitution by re-defining most prostitution-related activities, regardless of consent, as trafficking. Human trafficking is a complex issue, but there is widespread agreement about its key distinguishing features, namely the use of force, fraud or coercion. HR 3887 throws out these cornerstones and threatens to re-define all prostitution, arguably even all sex work, as trafficking.

If no "victims" or "traffickers" can be found, some will have to be created. The threat of additional charges or the promise of immunity can be used to persuade some of those charged to testify against their colleagues. During the initial period of the TVPRA, despite lavish spending on raids and on services for victims of trafficking, there was an embarrassing lack of migrants coming forward to take advantage of the protection offered by the law and to cooperate in the prosecution of their traffickers. The expanded definition of trafficking provided by HR 3887 should make up the shortfall in trafficking victims, but only by spuriously applying trafficking charges to cases that do not involve force, fraud or coercion.

There is something deeply wrong with our government when the answer to the desperate problem of human trafficking is to change the definition of the crime so we can claim we're doing something about it.

reason has been covering the conflation of trafficking and sex work for years. Here are Tracy Quan, Laura Agustin, and Joanne McNeil making similar arguments.

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  • Mark Foley||

    Congress as Sex Slave Factory

    From your lips to God's ears, Kerry.

  • ||

    I predict this measure will pass with flying colors.
    The right would all go "GASP! SEX!!!"
    and the left would all go "GASP! EXPLOITATION!"

  • ||

    They don't call it "Congress" for nothing.

  • ||

    I predict this measure will pass with flying colors.
    The right would all go "GASP! SEX!!!"
    and the left would all go "GASP! EXPLOITATION!"


    And the pimps will continue beating the crack whores, while some cops will continue demanding free blow jobs for not busting them.

    Fucking idiots.

  • Episiarch||

    So now we have the War on Trafficking, which will end up being mostly a war on non-violent mutual transactions. And we all know how well that works. Time to build some more jails.

  • thoreau||

    Who would have thought that it would be a bad idea to take drastic action in response to the hunch of a lone CIA employee?

    Let's ask Khaled El Masri what he thinks about that.

  • Guy Montag||

    Human trafficking is a complex issue . . .

    As "complex" as kidnapping?

    Interesting to see the new Congress is fast at work creating new victims too.

  • Naga Sadow||

    For some reason, I am neither surprised nor outraged at this transgression.

  • Invisible Finger||

    And when this law is deemed ineffective, the next definition to be changed will be that of "work". And when that proves to be less than useful enough, they'll just redefine "consensual sex" as "consensual between 2 humans and the government." Then the government will make some real money by charging for its consent.

    Government as pimp. Sort of like every country ruled by orthodox religion.

  • fyodor||

    There is something deeply wrong with our government when the answer to the desperate problem of human trafficking is to change the definition of the crime so we can claim we're doing something about it.

    Um, unless I'm missing something, it seems the definition is being changed so we can claim there's more of a problem that requires doing something about. Naturally, nothing Congress does will likely have much of an impact on the newly defined version of trafficking.

  • ||

    sources told The Washington Post the number came from a single CIA analyst who relied on clippings from foreign newspapers.



    More sophisticated analysis from the premier intelligence agency in the world, eh? Now I see how we got the WMD fiasco and even the OBL tape "confirmations" (long after he's dead, I'll wager). Seriously, are these guys ever right about anything?

    Though I almost feel sorry for the poor schmuck analyst who got handed this non-CIA worthy (well... then again) assignment to poor over foreign newspaper clippings for evidence of "trafficking." It's a far cry from the glory-days of the Cold War, I'm sure. If he's a left-over from those heady times it must seem like a purely make-work assignment for people with apparently little legitimate purpose anymore.

  • LT Nixon||

    From the bill bill would specifically authorize the appropriation of $207 million in 2008

    That's a lot of money. I wonder how much of it is going to be used by congressmen to purchase hookers.

  • Geotpf||

    For the most part, "White slavery" only occurs in bad semi-porn movies that air at 1 AM on Skinimax, at least in the United States (it seems to be somewhat more common in Europe).

  • LarryA||

    There is something deeply wrong with our government when the answer to the desperate problem of human trafficking is to change the definition of the crime so we can claim we're doing something about it.

    Yeah. But the technique has worked every other time Congress has used it. How about "possession of X grams of drug = dealing," "everyone ever convicted of any 'sex crime' = sexual predator," and "black stock+pistol grip = assault rifle?" And the entire income tax code.

  • Metal Messiah||

    You know that the only real use they're going to get out of this is another "tool" for attacking the porn industry.

    Notice that anytime the government gets a new "tool" they take away more of our money and more of our Constitution. Shiny new tools for the war on terror, the war on drugs, and now, the war on sex.

  • ||

    Funny how all the writers with enough balls to bring this insane crusade to the public's attention are women.

  • Joe||

    "possession of X grams of drug = dealing,"

    No, it is an "Intent to Distribute" charge, because if you have more than X amount, it is assumed you will sell it.

    "everyone ever convicted of any 'sex crime' = sexual predator,"

    And their not? I assume it doesn't include uninating in public, etc.

  • Joe||

    You know that the only real use they're going to get out of this is another "tool" for attacking the porn industry.

    And that's a bad thing? Porn is not something that should be tolerated in a Christan nation.

  • Joann||

    All prostitutes are slaves, they are oppressed and enslaved by the white male patriarchy.

  • Urkobold™||

    JOANN! YOU SPEAK DEEP WISDOM TO THE URKOBOLD! INDEED, IT IS THEIR ENSLAVEDNESS THAT MAKES PROSTITUTES SO HOT!

  • ||

    I will note that the only two "Nay" votes were cast by Jeff Flake and Paul Broun (Ron Paul did not vote).

  • ||

    Geotpf | May 20, 2008, 1:47pm | #
    For the most part, "White slavery" only occurs in bad semi-porn movies that air at 1 AM on Skinimax, at least in the United States (it seems to be somewhat more common in Europe).


    Don't forget the Lifetime Original movie starring Meredith Baxter Birney!

  • ||

    And that's a bad thing? Porn is not something that should be tolerated in a Christan nation.

    Agreed. That is one reason why I'm grateful that the United States is not, and never has been, a Christian nation.

  • Mike||

    Unsurprising given that the Congresscritters' only performance metric is volume of law enacted. Utility isn't even a concern, and nevermind such luxuries as justice or sensibility.

  • ||

    enormous resources were marshaled to find them

    Yeah, I spent HOURS on Craigslist and I hardly found any!

  • NeonCat||

    I have to wonder how much of this has to do with Eliot Spitzer's public shaming. Voting for this is a way to show the electorate that congresscritters don't ever, ever support prostitution.

  • ||

    They don't call it "Congress" for nothing.

    Goddam, PL. You are on fire today.

  • ||

    Am I the only one that thinks that "congressional aide"* should be the brand name for a condom?




    *More properly, "congressional aid".

  • Robert||

    That's not all folks. The House bill, by my reading, also outlaws sex tourism business abroad. That is, regardless of the laws of other countries regarding prostitution, it becomes illegal for Americans to arrange for a fee a visit to another country for a commercial sex act.

  • New Zealand||

    Here in New Zealand, prostitution was legalized a year or two back, and (suprise, surprise) not every woman has become a prostitute.

  • ||

    There is something deeply wrong with our government when the answer to the desperate problem of human trafficking is to change the definition of the crime so we can claim we're doing something about it.



    There is something deeply wrong with our government - the rest of the sentence is superfluous.

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