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Stranger Danger: Legal Analysis of Child Trafficking

Maya Begovic

First Colonial High School

Legal Studies Academy



The purpose of this paper is to create awareness and prevention for the increasing problem of

child trafficking and abduction. The author describes the need for increased legislation and

increased protection in favor of those who are victims of child trafficking. The author examines

cases where children are trafficked and openly explains the reasoning and effects behind the

crime. Several hub countries are addressed and recommendations for the control of this global

problem are introduced. The author intends to explain that the crime that comes upon these

innocent children are preventable if the right measures are taken. The author discusses real

situations regarding children who were brutally murdered and victims of abduction, a starting

factor of child trafficking. Child abduction and trafficking strips children of their innocence,

hence leaving them with zero public voice or opinion. With the help of each and every person

nationally and globally, this nightmare of a crime will decrease and the innocent children and

young adults will regain their voice and purpose on this Earth.

Stranger Danger: Legal Analysis of Child Trafficking

Child trafficking is defined as any person under 18 who is recruited, transported,

transferred, harboured or received for the purpose of exploitation, either within or outside a

country (Upadhyay, 2015). While children locally, nationally, and globally, are being transported

away from their families, normal people go about their days as if this problem was invisible. The

rates of child trafficking are increasing enormously and essentially, our nations future leaders

are being sold, used, and abused in nations surrounding our own. According to the United

Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent,

Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in relation to persons as follows:

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of

the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception,

of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of

payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another

person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the

exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced

labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of


Taken from an interview of 97 parents of abducted children, one third out of nine abducted

children were taken to countries in Latin America, one fourth were taken to Muslim countries,

and one fifth were taken to European countries, while 62% of the abductors of these children

were not American (Snow, 2008). From the same book of research, it is explained that the

average age of trafficked/abducted children is five. At five years old, the matured mindset is yet

to be developed, therefore making it easy to manipulate and influence these innocent children.

With every trafficking case beginning with an abduction, legislation regarding both crimes, along

with a deeper explanation of the relationship between the two will be explained further in this


International v. Domestic Trafficking


International child abduction isnt as prominent of an issue as ordinary family abductions.

The US State Department estimates that 1,000 kids are internationally abducted each year. This

1,000 is less than half of one percent of the total amount of ordinary abductions. On record with

the US State Department, there are over 200,000 reported abductions on file (Snow, 2008). With

the common social assumption that there are mounds of cases that go unreported, the problem is

growing exponentially. With international abductions, the abducting parents have the chance to

take their children to countries where there are no treaties in place with the United States

government regarding the return of abducted children. This creates an incentive for single

parents and relatives who want to take custody into their own hands and flee. Most of these

abductions were cases of revenge and payback from marital divorce and inner-family

abductions. Countries like Jamaica, India, and El Salvador all have living standards below the

poverty line, causing these crimes to be more prominent. Traffickers exploit the aspirations of

those living in poverty and those seeking better lives ("Introduction," 2016).

Jamaica. Jamaica, among many other small countries, is a source, transit, and destination

country for many young girls, also including lower-class women, and young boys ("Category

Archives: Shared Hope," 2010). They are commonly trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced

labor. One of the common ways that young girls and teens are taken are by misleading

employment offers. Some of the most common locations in Jamaica include, highly populated

resort towns, massage parlors, spas, bars, and on the street. Jamaicas socially accepted beliefs

entail that in order for an act to qualify as an act oftrafficking, three aspects must be satisfied:

action, means, and purpose (Barrett, 2014). The action element, similar to in criminal justice,

is the actus reus or the literal act of trafficking that has taken place. The actions that the

government looks for would be the recruitment process, the transportation or the transfer of a

human, child or adult, by a so-called pimp. The means element consists of the details that

lie between the lines of the obvious traffick humans for money. Commonly, someone

convicted of human trafficking would have forcefully moved or abducted another person and

they would have manipulated the victim to believe their false authority and power. Those

involved in such acts have either given or received modes of payment or benefit, to achieve the

consent of whoever they are aiming to traffick for their own benefit. In most cases, the

agreement of a money exchange is only applicable to adult human trafficking (and young adults),

since children are most likely to be incapable of accepting benefits or bribery to cooperate. Some

incentives of human traffickers can consist of their ability to create misleading job opportunities

and promise work for a woman or young adult. The purpose detail is defined as the intention

to take a person or child through unlawful actions and prohibited means; this is also known as

mens rea ("Mens Rea," n.d.). Also according to Barrett, children who are at higher risk of

trafficking and manipulation are those who actually get moved to foster homes or communities

where living is cheaper, although unsafe. Children who attempt to gain money for their families

by selling products on the streets as vendors are the perfect victims in the eyes of the criminals.

Jamaica has danced their way among the tiers of cooperation regarding child trafficking and

sexual exploitation.

India. India is a country with high counts of trafficked women and children for sexual

trade and sale; it is known as a source, destination, and transit. An estimate is made that out of

about 6 million to 8 million adults who are recorded as trafficked individuals, approximately half

of them are children. It is evident that the illegal traffic of children is a problem, but with all of

the governmental regulations and laws against it, the reason for increase is unknown. The

reasoning behind the child trafficking in certain countries like India, is because most children and

families live in a state of drastic poverty and live in conditions where they are unable to provide

for anyone other than themselves. Some children run away, or are abandoned, and then are lured

by pimps and gangsters to do work, either forced labor or sexual acts, with the slight hope of

a better life with them. Given poor socio-economic standards, some parents are even forced to

sell their children (to the mafia and human trafficking ring essentially). With sexual exploitation

being a leading reason for child trafficking in countries all over the world, including India,

approximately 80% of children that are trafficked, are used for this reason. (Upadhyay, 2015).

El Salvador. Sexual exploitation of children remains a problem in El Salvador as young

girls are continuously being forced into prostitution. Child sex trafficking is covered under the

trafficking-in-persons statutes in the penal code, which gives a penalty of four to eight years

imprisonment for trafficking crimes ("Introduction," 2016). In El Salvador, the minimum age of

consensual sexual acts is 18, causing many crimes in this country to violate this code. El

Salvador's Fourth District Court recently, in 2015, convicted four out of seven men who were

involved in a gang to ten years. The case of these men erupted among reporters for weeks, as it

was discovered that those involved sold the virginities of underage victims for $150 each. This

case became a publically shown scandal once it became reported that among the buyers, they

were prominent businessmen, successful professionals, and politicians (Lopez & Orellana,

2015). With low living standards in Central and Latin America, the crimes of child trafficking is

continuing, even with legal regulations that have been implemented. In some cases, the fault of

the continuing crimes fall on the police officials themselves. According to Lopez et als, the

Salvadoran police registered 96 arrests for human trafficking in the past four years; of these 96

arrests, only 35 of these cases ended with convictions.

Modes of Child Trafficking


Given the vulnerability of young females and young males (around the ages of 5), their

ability to cooperate as a reaction to fear is nearly inevitable. The strenuous physical toll that

forced labor takes on young children in America and surrounding countries is beyond what any

child should have to deal with. When forced labor is included in the situation of trafficking, the

children are forced to complete tasks and work longer hours than their bodies can sustain. It is

immoral and unlawful, yet it is still happening.

The most common method used for human/child trafficking in countries other than

America, like India is bonded labor or forced slavery (Upadhyay, 2015). Bonded Labor,

also known as debt bondage, bonded labor is a specific form of forced labor in which

compulsion into servitude is derived from debt (Finn, n.d.). Also detailed by Finn, India is a

leading hub for forced labor on children. He detailed in his journal that the largest employer of

children in India is the agricultural sector. here, it is estimated that twenty-five million children

are employed throughout the nation. The second largest employer of Indian children is the

service sector where children are employed in hotels as maids and housekeepers.

Because labor is something that many people are willing to do for a better lifestyle, those

who are in need of money and necessities are vulnerable to illegitimate paying jobs. Pimps

target young females who are homeless, poor, and in need of help. In order for them to get what

they need to survive, they are forced to work for hours among hours, without food or water, in

hopes of the slightest chance that they might receive the money or collateral that they were


Sexual Exploitation

In countries like Jamaica, the sex-centered business ring is nearly invisible to tourists,

although it fills the streets where many dont encounter. For example, after the inspection of

Jamaicas sex clubs and businesses where children were expected to be employed, The Child

Care and Protection Act (CCPA) was passed in 2004 with the intention to improve the living

standards of children and decrease the amount of children who were transported to different

cities (trafficked) to be used for sexual exploitation or work. Now, with the negative attention on

such a high-end tourist location, Jamaican governments have implemented regulations like the

Trafficking Act of Jamaica, which prohibited the trafficking of persons, including minors, for

commercial sexual exploitation. ("Category Archives: Shared Hope," 2010). Shared Hope

Internationals (SHI) 2007 DEMAND report stated that Jamaicas heavy economic reliance

on tourism fuels demand for commercial sex. In countries aside from Jamaica, sexual

exploitation seems to be one of the key factors that cause the increasing rates of exploited

children. Sex work is something that is forced among children and women, and is unreported

after the cause. In America, the amount of discrete prostitution rings that exist are increasing,

even though not many people are even aware of their prominence.

Child Trafficking and Abduction Relationship

Every child that is trafficked was once kidnapped and abducted. I am focusing on the

aspect of child trafficking because no human should take advantage of a five year olds, ten year

olds, or simply any minors body, mind, and physical ability. With the increase awareness

regarding the amount of children who are illegally taken from their homes and families every

day, the concept of using these children for an unorthodox benefit might dissipate. The pre-

existing legislations that exist like Jessicas law and Megans law are all responses to control the

problem of trafficking. While creating my own recommendation that will be detailed further later

on, the intentions are to decrease the amount of abductions, inevitably decreasing the amount of

children that are trafficked.

Legislation and Recommendations


United States v. Evans. Justin Evans was convicted of running a human

trafficking/prostitution ring, involving children, in Miami-Dade County, Florida. He has

challenged the courts decision to deny his motion to dismiss the case. Both parties in the court

agreed that Evans specifically had one girl (Jane Doe) work for him as a prostitute from

December 2004 to May 2005. Evans did in fact gain profit from the actions of this girl. The

young girl was given a cell phone to communicate with customers and Evans with. Evans held

her in a hotel room and forced her to do commercial sexual work from there. During her time

under the influence of prostitution, she was hospitalized twice for the treatment of AIDS. The

reason that the court denied his motion to dismiss the charge is because his actions satisfied both

591(a)(1) and 2422(b). The case also details that because a similar precedent was brought

up in a different court proceeding, States v. Smith, regarding intrastate commercial prostitution,

the court must stick to their previous precedents and keep a common balance. Justin Evans

violated two laws, incriminating him of illegal acts; both of which are explained further:

U.S.C 591(a)(1) as knowing, or, except where the act constituting the violation of

paragraph (1) is advertising, in reckless disregard of the fact, that means of force, threats

of force, fraud, coercion described in subsection (e)(2), or any combination of such

means will be used to cause the person to engage in a commercial sex act, or that the

person has not attained the age of 18 years and will be caused to engage in a commercial

sex act, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).

Similarly, U.S.C 2422(b) details the same criteria as the code above with slight differences.

This code says that whoever knowingly persuades someone to travel internationally or anywhere

under U.S. Territory for work (prostitution services) can be charged with a criminal offense

and imprisoned for a maximum of 20 years. With the similarity between the two federal codes, it

is explained that anyone who knowingly moves someone to another location is in fact a violation

of a legal law that prohibits the trafficking of humans. The differences between the two codes are

the specific details about if the victim is under 18 years of age, the punishment differs, and also if

the movement and influence of trafficking actions take place outside of the United States then

the punishment is different.

Existing Recommendations

Indias legislations. India is a country with many laws and efforts in place to control

such crimes, so elaborating on such enactments was necessary. Article 23 of the 1949

Constitution of India states the prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour; this

article is followed throughout the nation, while the Bonded Labor System Abolition Act is very

rarely implemented, causing the number of forced labor on minors, in India, to be at a constant

increase. The Bonded Labor Act requires all bonded labour systems to frees all bonded laborers

from their debt to the creditors of whom they have been working for ("Bonded Labour System

(Abolition)," n.d.). The Indian government has shown no effort in implementing this Act since

its creation; the amount of people, and children, who are working to clear a sort of debt is still

excessively high. Additionally in India, the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act of 1956 was

passed by Indian Government legislation to control the trafficking ring (Upadhyay, 2015). This

act is a detailed working legal effect that has many aspects of sexual work included, with the

intention to prohibit every possible kind, essentially without loopholes. The judiciary has also

played a role, along with many more acts and laws passed, by passing key landmark decisions in

favor of preventing and decreasing the ring of child trafficking and human trafficking as a whole.

The tier system. The Tier Placement system is a system implemented by the U.S.

Department of State in 2003 after most countries were placed in one of three tiers or levels. In

response to the TIP (Trafficking in Persons) report that was released in June of 2016, this

system is effectively used to assess each country's involvement and response with the TVPA

(Trafficking Victims Protection Act) and dedication to maintaining a safe society regarding

children who are trafficked. In simpler words, a countrys cooperation to work with the TVPA,

places them on a higher tier, making their government more accepted and appreciated. The

amended Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 detailed by the U.S. Department of State is

as follows:

(1) The government of the country should prohibit severe forms of trafficking in persons
and punish acts of such trafficking.
(2) For the knowing commission of any act of sex trafficking involving force, fraud,
coercion, or in which the victim of sex trafficking is a child incapable of giving
meaningful consent, or of trafficking which includes rape or kidnapping or which causes
a death, the government of the country should prescribe punishment commensurate with
that for grave crimes, such as forcible sexual assault.

(3) For the knowing commission of any act of a severe form of trafficking in persons, the
government of the country should prescribe punishment that is sufficiently stringent to
deter and that adequately reflects the heinous nature of the offense.
(4) The government of the country should make serious and sustained efforts to eliminate
severe forms of trafficking in persons.
If a country is placed on the first tier, this means that their government has recognized the
problem of human trafficking, is working to create efforts to fix the problem, and follows the
four standards of the TVPA. The second tier means that the government does not fully comply
with the TVPAs minimum standards, but is making an obvious effort to comply to the best of
their ability. The third tier falls with the countries whose governments who do not fully comply
and are not making any effort or change in their legislation to fix that (U.S. DOS, "Introduction,"
2016). There is a level that a country can fall under which is a blurry line between tier two and
tier three, titled as the Tier Two Watch List. This gives governments a two-year period to make
efforts to address the problem and meet minimum standards ("Trafficking in Persons Report
2016," n.d.). A tier two watch list country can better be explained as a country who meets tier
two guidelines, in addition to having a significantly high and increasing number of victims of
severe trafficking. Additionally, watch list countries fail to provide proof that they are making
efforts, although they promised the department that they will make revisions over the following
year or two. ("Human Trafficking Tier Placement," 2014).
Megans Law. Megans Law came from the case of unethical rape and murder of an
innocent seven year old girl by the name of Megan Kanka.A bill was enacted on February 7th,
2016 by the President of the United States, titled as International Megan's Law to Prevent Child
Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex
Offenders ("Countable," n.d.). With this bill, the U.S. Marshals Services National Sex Offender
Targeting Office would provide data and information regarding child-sex offenders. The
information that would be provided due to this bill would be a notification to foreign
governments when a registered U.S. sex offender travels to the foreign country, and vise versa.
This bill is essentially being used to prevent child exploitation and other sexual crimes through
the advanced notification of a sex offenders travel route. The International Labour Organization

has estimated that 18,000,000 children worldwide are exploited and trafficked each year so with
the data that this provides, hopefully numbers will decrease over the years. This law created
widespread public demand for community notification and awareness of registered sexual
predators living within striking distance of kids and young teens. Megans Law is the reason
behind the creation of the United States Sex Offender Registry System. ("Jessicas Law The
Jessica Lunsford Act," 2010)
Jessicas law. Jessica Lunsford was a nine year old girl who was abducted from her home

by John Couey, early February 24th, 2005. Jessica was raped and buried alive just days after her

disappearance. The man that murdered and raped this innocent girl was a sex offender who didnt

update his residence, as required in the state of Florida. (Bailey, 2013). In 2005, Jeb Bush, former

Governor of Florida, created the Jessica Lunsford Act which places a minimum prison sentence

of 25 years for anyone who preys on children younger than 12. This was created to encourage

public school systems to conduct background checks prior to hiring given that alleged suspects at

the time included sub-contracted, non-employees from Jessicas school. Currently, it is also now

a felony if someone isnt registered as a sex offender with Florida. ("Jessicas Law The Jessica

Lunsford Act," 2010) The Jessica Lunsford Act is an example of effective legislation that was

created to essentially prevent the occurrences of child trafficking. If child molesters and sex

offenders were watched and tracked not only in Florida, but in all of America, the first step of a

trafficking case, the abduction, wouldnt even take place.

Possible Recommendations.

The creation and implementation of a Stranger Danger type of course within schools

would positively affect society, if done right. With the fact that the abduction of children leads to

children being trafficked, the child-protection class would focus more on the precautions of

stranger danger and abduction as whole. During an interview with Kristen Howard, the

Director of the Virginia Crime Commission, I asked her if she thought that child trafficking and

abduction rates would decline if a "Child Safety" or "Stranger Danger" type of course was taught

nationally, throughout the school systems. In other words, I was interested in knowing if teaching

younger children about "strangers" and safety would have any impact at all? She responded with

Yes, but it is important to look at the data regarding stranger abductions and make children

aware that just because they are [being approached by a] family member, neighbor, teacher,

coach, etc. that does not mean they are "safe. With her input, the creation of a child safety

course would have to include a less-specific spectrum of information, not solely based on

kidnapping prevention. Courses need to be in a broader context of a plan of action so a child

knows what to do in certain situations, rather than focusing only on "stranger danger (K. J.

Howard, Personal communication, December 7, 2016). If every school, ranging from elementary

to high school, provided different versions of a child-protective/safety course, each year, students

would start to learn about the dangers of strangers and familiar dangerous people around them.

They would be introduced to this topic at a young age and would then be motivated to learn more

and more about abduction and trafficking as the years progress. If such recommendation would

be enacted, children would ignite their maturity at a young age, making the future leaders of

America more confident.


Specifically in the state of Virginia, cases of child trafficking in relation to sexual

exploitation is not an increasing issue, thankfully. During the 2010 Session of the Virginia

General Assembly, the Virginia Crime Commission studied the number of criminal justice issues

connected with the problems of taking indecent liberties and prostitution-related offenses

involving children. They found that the number of prosecutions and convictions for misdemeanor

prostitution crimes has remained consistently stable over the last five years (Indecent Liberties

and Prostitution-Related Offenses Involving Children, VCC Report. n.d.). In 2014, El Salvador

and India are placed on the second tier in relation to their compliance to the TVPA. Jamaica was

on the watch list for 2014 and has moved up to the second tier, currently in 2016, according to

the Department of State. Countries are improving and there are more and more laws that are

being implemented to ensure the safety of children all around the world. The problem of

abduction and child trafficking is still a leading problem around the world because many cases

go unmentioned, unreported, and are deemed unimportant. If children like Jessica Lunsford are

getting their lives stripped from them by sex offenders just miles away, then we as a society and

as a nation are doing something wrong. If Justin Evans was able to have Jane Doe work for him

as a commercially trafficked sexual worker for over a year without anyone finding them, then we

as a nation need to step up for the children who are taken from their families. Child trafficking is

an issue that should never be taken lightly and it is time for our nation and other nations to begin

speaking up for those who have no voice because of this dreadful crime.


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