The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines “severe forms of trafficking” as “a commercial sex act that is induced by force, fraud, or coercion or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.”
Much of this problem occurs in countries in south-east Asia but is by no means a stranger to the United States and other countries throughout the world.
The cause of such widespread criminality is hard to pinpoint, but is mainly associated with the social and economic development in many of these countries.
Young girls, usually under the age of 18 are motivated to escape the life they currently live and as a result often become the most common victim.
Poverty, lack of employment opportunities, public and private corruption, organized crime, political instability, discrimination against women and children, and armed conflict are just a few of the harsh truths from which these women are trying to flee.
Some give consent in the hope to obtain a higher standard of living elsewhere, subjecting themselves to prostitution with the chance to earn some money and send it back home to their families.
In some countries, the fostering of a young child is still followed where they are sent to live and work in an urban center with a member of the extended family in an exchange for a promise of education and instruction in a trade.
Trust is sometimes violated and the children end up a face in a crowd of slavery workers whose clients pay for sex acts and the relative gets rich.
Sex traffickers often position themselves as employment agents also, convincing the parents of a child to let them work and are then later forced into prostitution.
In the end, the parents receive little if any money from wages earned; the victim does not receive the promised education, and they remain separated from his or her family.
The promise of a better life is never obtained, not to mention the potential development of emotional, psychological and physical harm or death.
In 2004, according to the Thai embassy in Japan, six thousand Thai prostitutes were active in Japan and almost all were victims of sex trafficking.
A Thai girl named Lena came to Japan on the promise of making money working as an “entertainer” she must reimburse her broker or pimp for transportation, document’s, board and keep after entering the country on a false passport.
The cost: between five and six million yen or 45,000 to 55,000 dollars U.S.
The majority of this money went to her pimp to pay off debts and after only keeping ninety dollars (10,000 yen)
Japan has an $83 Billion commercial sex trade industry.
Japan is a country that in recent years has presented causes for concern in the scheme of sex trafficking, despite its elite status as a member of The Group of Eight (G8).
The Group of Eight (G8) is an international forum for the governments of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Together these countries comprise 65 percent of the world economy and the majority of global military power.
In the U.S. State Departments annual Trafficking In Persons report issued in 2004, Japan was placed on a list of countries that are doing the bare minimum to help end the international trade in women that also includes the countries of Laos, Mexico, and the Philippines.
In 2005 the Japanese government was to revise their penal code to classify the trafficking of foreign women as a criminal offense, and until then it was only a crime to traffic Japanese women.
In 2006, Japan’s National Police Agency identified only 56 victims. 2005 -Arrested 78 trafficking suspects, prosecuted 17 cases, and convicted only 15 people for trafficking violations.
Human rights groups believe nearly 150,000 women are working as a result of trafficking as hostesses, exotic dancers, and prostitutes.
These minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking as outlined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 are 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 following 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.
And, (4) The government of the country should make serious and sustained efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons.
18 U.S.C. 2423B – Travel with Intent to Engage in Sexual Acts with a Juvenile states,
A person who travels in interstate commerce, or conspires to do so, or a citizen of the United States or an alien admitted for permanent residence in the United States who travels in foreign commerce, or conspires to do so, for the purpose of engaging in a sexual act with a person [younger than] 18 years of age that would be in violation of chapter 109A if the sexual act occurred in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - 1989
States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral, and multilateral measures to prevent (a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity; (b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices; (c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.
By the U.S. ratifying the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child (1989) it will allow for more of an international effort.
By Japan following minimum standards and criteria of the TVPA of 2000 it will not only limit domestic trafficking but international as well.
Lastly, by Japan adopting similar legislation to the U.S. 18 U.S.C. 2423B – Travel with Intent to Engage in Sexual Acts with a Juvenile they will only further their impact on sex trafficking prevention worldwide.