Dear John, You are a Human Trafficker

39 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2017

See all articles by Mary Graw Leary

Mary Graw Leary

Catholic University of America (CUA)

Date Written: 2016


Human trafficking finally presents a crime that appropriately shifts the culpability from the abused to the abuser. As the heinous world of human trafficking is studied and more is understood about its inner workings, we can no longer conflate victimization with over-criminalization. The purpose of this paper is to shine light on the force and fraud that perpetuates the enslavement of victims who are sexually trafficked. Beginning with the Mann Act passed by Congress and up until more recently, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, this paper traces the historical and societal shifts that are necessary to situate Sex Purchasers in their proper place as the cause of so much victimization. It also calls for the need to refocus our methodology and law enforcement efforts to change previously held beliefs about the causes and effects of prostituting people. Sex trafficking is the use of force, fraud, coercion or the use of minors to in engage in a commercial sexual act. When Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and finally identified sex trafficking as a standalone federal crime, this passage paved the way for an effective way to combat sex trafficking; prosecution of the sex purchasers. This recent legislation can be used to put purchasers in their proper place as integral components to the system of degradation that is sex trafficking. Such a tool can only be effective if utilized by prosecutors. Resistance to this effort has precluded this legislation from reaching its promise. This article proposes adjustments to the sentencing scheme of Purchasers of Sex convicted of sex trafficking. It calls for a graduated approach to sentencing determined by the level of knowledge of the purchaser to accurately reflect the gravity of the victimization.

Keywords: Keywords: Human Trafficking, Mann Act, Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), Victimization, Over-criminalization, Graduated Sentencing, Federal Sentencing, Sentencing, Sex Trafficking, Prostitution

Suggested Citation

Graw Leary, Mary, Dear John, You are a Human Trafficker (2016). South Carolina Law Review, Vol. 68, Pp. 413-450, 2016, CUA Columbus School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-4, Available at SSRN:

Mary Graw Leary (Contact Author)

Catholic University of America (CUA) ( email )

116 McMahon Hall
Washington, DC 20064
United States

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