With all the statistics surrounding violence against women, including the fact that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, you’d think there would have been less of a fight… or at least a clearer dissent when it comes to the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA).
In the end though, it passed. Though I may be a little confused in how I feel about the entire bill, human trafficking is an issue close to my heart and The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was extended through to 2018 in VAWA.
When it was first introduced in 2000, in response to a UN Convention, one of the biggest differences The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act made was in the creation of two new types of visas: the U visa for victims of certain crimes and the T visa for trafficking victims. The language was modified this year to encompass stalking as a qualifying crime for which a victim can apply for a U visa.
If you were to look at the Tier map of human trafficking, you would see a trend that is a bit worrying. According to the Tier map, “A Tier 1 indicates that a state government has recognized the problem of human trafficking, has made efforts to address the issue, and meets the Trafficking Victims Protection Act's (TVPA) minimum standards. A country with a Tier 2 rating has not met the standards but has made efforts to do so, while a Tier 3 rating means the country has not met the minimum standards and has not attempted to do so.” Most of the world appears to be considered ‘Tier Two Watch List,’ which means they have made half-hearted or empty gestures so as to appear to be making strides in offering protections. Case in point: China. After years of preferring male over female babies as a part of their One Child Policy, China does not have enough young women. This has given way to a lot of domestic trafficking. Women are kidnapped from one region, taken to another, and forced into marriage and to bare sons for their captures. Forced prostitution, forced labor and forced begging of women, men and children are rampant there
However, living in a Tier One country doesn’t necessarily make you immune:
- Percival R. Williams was recently arrested in Texas for his prostitution ring centered in New Jersey with women from the Cleveland, Ohio area. He was pretending to be a music producer in order to lure the women before forcing them into prostitution through violence and threats. He had nice cars and a girl friend and was supposedly trying to expand his business to stealing diamonds when he was caught. [Source]
- In Virginia, a member of the street gang MS-13 was sentenced for trafficking a minor. Jonathan “Crazy Boy” Fuentes, 21, from Maryland, was sentenced to ten years for being a driver for an under aged prostitute. The young girl is part of a ring federal officials are actively trying to break up. [Source]
- A 35 year old Michigan man was recently charged. Jackie Harris reportedly coaxed a teenage girl into helping him operate his prostitution ring and then into selling her own body. [Source]
- And, down in Florida, the Miami-Dade human trafficking unit got their first conviction. A gentleman, and I’m using that term loosely, was sentenced to 15-years for strangling one of the girls in his prostitution ring. He forced at least six women to work for him and had fathered children with three of them. Oh, and when he was stopped, he had abducted his seven year old. When the officers asked the child about the two other women in the car, the boy reportedly told them “Those are my daddies hoes.” [Source]
Believe it or not, ladies, even with creeps like that, we’re lucky here. Tier One is the lowest risk possible. It means our government acknowledges the problem and has made a formal effort to combat the situation.
Protecting each other isn’t redundant and will never be redundant. We are talking specifically about protecting women, but the VAWA extends protections to illegal immigrants, members of the LGBT community and some men, so simply calling it the Violence Against Woman Act is interesting. If we choose to, we carry the next generation and we raise it. So, by protecting us, you protect the world. It’s the same primal place that chivalry comes from, whether we acknowledge it or not.