Improving Protection and Services for Trafficking Victims in the United
States: Recommendations Based on the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery
Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that occurs both internationally and within
national borders. It is a multibillion-dollar criminal industry, and millions of men, women, and
children have been victims of this heinous and unconscionable crime.2
Fortunately, the problem of human trafficking has finally started to receive the attention it
deserves. Over the past two decades, a plethora of anti-trafficking laws have been passed at both
international and domestic levels. The United States specifically has been a leader in the
promulgation of anti-trafficking laws that have served as models for other nations of the world.
These federal laws, however, do not adequately address victim treatment and protection
services. Minors remain particularly vulnerable. For example, minors in the United States may be
prosecuted for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers.
Although many national anti-trafficking frameworks are based on the U.S. model, the
United Kingdom has substantially different laws. The United States should look to the laws of the
United Kingdom and incorporate those provisions that would provide better protection for human
KEYWORDS: Children, Human Trafficking, Modern Slavery Act 2015, TVPA, United Kingdom,
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 20003 was the first U.S. federal law to
address trafficking in persons. The TVPA established several methods for prosecuting traffickers,
preventing human trafficking, and protecting survivors of trafficking.4 Since the introduction of
the TVPA, there has been a plethora of other federal laws that have sought to tackle the endemic
problem of trafficking.
These laws, however, could be improved to provide better protection for victims. For
example, these laws have not mandated the creation of a central system of victim identification
and referral, nor have they provided uniform guidelines for interviewing and interacting with
potential victims—a process that significantly impacts identification. Victims continue to be
prosecuted for crimes they may have committed, and the definition of labor trafficking is very
narrow because victims must show either force, fraud, or coercion.
1 Yusuf Abdulkareem is a recent graduate of the LLM program at Loyola University Chicago, with a specialization in
international law. His research interests span across international human rights, human trafficking, and women’s
2 Human Trafficking, POLARIS, https://polarisproject.org/human-trafficking (last visited May 24, 2018).
3 Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-386, 114 Stat. 1465 (codified as amended at 22 U.S.C.
§§ 7101–7114 (2012)).
4 Trafficking Victims Protection Act §§ 106–108.