Saturday, July 21, 2018


Criticism of the TVPA and other federal and state sex trafficking statutes is well documented. Despite initial government emphasis on trafficking outside the United States, many scholars quickly focused their criticism inward, analyzing the government's shortcomings in fighting trafficking within American borders. Unfortunately, this scholarship has centered almost exclusively on the plight of immigrant victims. Scholarship has thus remained as myopic as the government in failing to address the failures of sex trafficking laws vis-à-vis domestic victims.

But the weaknesses of U.S. sex trafficking laws in protecting domestic victims are many. Regrettably, the socio-cultural context and tribal jurisdiction in which many Native women and girls live only compound these flaws. In large part, current laws are failing American Indian sex trafficking victims because of the exceedingly “foreign” focus of U.S. anti-trafficking efforts. Specifically, TVPA provisions and corresponding government structures and rhetoric emphasize international trafficking and foreign victims trafficked into the United States. Not only does the construction of this legal regime marginalize domestic trafficking victims, but the pervasive ‘foreign’ sex trafficking paradigm causes law enforcement, prosecutors, and service providers to fail to effectively apply sex trafficking laws to domestic victims. This Part will address each of these problems in turn, focusing on how complex tribal jurisdiction and socio-cultural conditions further compound these problems for Native victims.

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