According to Cheryl (845), more than 50,000 children and women are trafficked into the United States every year to be sex slaves and Texas which is explained as the Lone Star State is deemed as the profound hub of sexual trafficking. Here, the undertaking of the commercial sex trafficking business across the United States’ borders indicates that the given menace is both a federal and state policy issue that requires utmost consideration for the protection of vulnerable women and children. While sex trafficking is a collective issue for all levels of government in the United States, the federal government is inclined towards the international context while states including Texas are confined to the addressing of domestic children and women sexual exploitation. Sex trafficking is undertaken through organized criminal networks at the state, national and global levels and hence, joint effort in the policy initiation and implementation from state and federal legislatures as well as the law enforcement is deemed as pivotal (Hodge, 144).
Major Issues Facing Each Level of Government
Legislations in the case of state governments are deemed as the profound hurdle in the efforts against sexual trafficking. In the case of Texas, the revitalization of the states’ anti-trafficking laws happened in the year 2011 according to Cheryl (846). Here, it is apparent that the given policies are at the inception stage which implies limited assimilation among the state departments and the understanding of the legal protections among the Texas residents. The implementation of any given policy is reliant on the collaboration between all the affected stakeholders which in this case include the state government and the citizens. According to Cheryl (846), the policy efforts implemented by the Texas state government include the ‘safe harbor’ initiative for the youth affected by sex trafficking. However, the pertinent question, in this case, is on how many residents of Texas are aware of the given program and how best they can utilize to enhance the protection of vulnerable individuals. Williams (624) indicates that the victims of sexual trafficking include people hailing from unstable and unsafe conditions who are in the quest for better living which allows for the luring in the promise for employment, stability, and love. Here, the challenges facing the state governments are understood in questioning the awareness and the reach out within Texas on the contents of the sexual trafficking policies.
In the case of the federal government, Boyce et al. (1049) indicate that the profound challenge towards the policy implementation within the federal government and other national agencies is the insufficient data of identifying the risk factors that enhance the vulnerability of women and children to sexual trafficking. Also, Cheryl (625) asserts that the perpetrators of sexual trafficking can be strangers, acquaintances, partners, family members, and foreign or domestic citizens. Here, it is apparent that the efforts in the comprehending the given crime and ensuring the protection of children and women are challenged by the complex nature of the crime. The disguised nature of sexual trafficking due to the organized nature of the networks indicates that the federal government requires substantial resources and information to curb the given menace. The informational inefficiency indicates that the modification of the given policies to address the needs of the vulnerable groups is deemed as inefficient and while campaigns could be staged by the federal agencies, the intended message may not reach the target groups which include poor women and children. Also, it is important to note that the federal government is mandated with the handling of sexual trafficking policies at the international level and here, there is a need for the collaboration with global bodies such as the United Nations and foreign governments. Owing to the varying priorities among different national governments, the United States government is faced by the challenges of attaining international support in the fight against organized sexual trafficking crime syndicates.
Reasons for Initiating Changes to the Policy
Deducting from the assertions of Cheryl (847), the need for changes in the existing sexual trafficking policies is to enhance the prevention of future crimes, punishing of the traffickers and the protection of the sex trafficking victims. Cheryl (847) further notes that the Texas legislation requires amendments to redefine the concept of ‘human trafficking and safeguard vulnerable minors, shift from criminal prosecution to the prevention of sexual exploitation, restructure the ‘safe harbor’ aspect to enhance victim welfare and prevent delinquency adjudication. Also, in the case of the federal government, there is a need for the change in sexual trafficking policy to address the concerns raised by agencies such as the United Nations which indicate that the United States is the second primary destination of trafficked children and women after Italy (Hodge, 145). Through the initiation of changes to the existing policies, the Texas state and the United States federal government will be able to address the shortcomings in the current laws and respond to the emerging trends as far as sexual trafficking is concerned. Williams (625) indicates that sexual trafficking is a crime against human dignity and hence, the realization of social progress in the United States will require utmost efforts to curb trafficking and protect vulnerable children and women in the domestic context. In the international arena, the United States federal government ought to undertake policy changes to curb the legal shortcomings and security lapses which have allowed the country to be among the top primary destinations for trafficked women and children.
Options to be considered
Both the state and the federal government have the option of enhancing mass awareness as far as the rules preventing and punishing sexual trafficking and the individual protective efforts against exploitation are concerned. Here, the success of the given option is attained in the event that sufficient information required for the identification of the vulnerable groups and the sexual exploitation risk factors has been attained. There is a need for informed actions and the campaign by the federal and state governments ought to be based on research.
The state and the federal government ought to amend the legislation governing sexual trafficking to deviate from the focus on punishment and prosecution into the prevention of the risk groups. While the efforts by the various levels of the government to prosecute and punish the traffickers have been significant, it is evident that the outcomes reveal inefficiency in protecting local and international women and children as the country is still ranked among the top primary trafficking destinations globally.
Also, there is a need for a multi-agency approach at the various government levels. Here, the given option will allow for robust sharing of information to inform on the trafficking networks, the vulnerability of individuals and policing advice. Through the joint efforts, resources are mobilized among the state, federal and international bodies to detect and apprehend trafficking networks while preventing future crimes and preventing the sexually exploited victims.
Pros and Cons of each Potential Reform
In the case of mass awareness, the residents of Texas and the United States at large will be able to understand the legal protections and remedies for sexual exploitation. Information among the potential victims ensures that security from individual levels is attained. However, the disadvantaged of the given option is founded on the fact that the universal reach out from the various levels of government is relatively unattainable. Awareness campaigns do not guarantee that the target audience will be reached out sufficiently.
Deviation from trafficking prosecution to the prevention of the crime is deemed as an empowerment effort which will reduce the victims of the menace thus protecting the children and women of the country. On the other hand, lack of prosecution and punishment of the sexual traffickers will prevent the deterrence of the crime and hence encourage the activities of the organized trafficking networks.
The multi-agency option allows for the mobilization of resources and sharing of information which increases the capacity of the individual levels of government in fighting human trafficking. However, the disadvantage here is based on the fact that the merging of visions and strategies of independent agencies is cumbersome due to existing bureaucracies and varying individual interests.
Best Option Moving Forward
The multi-agency approach to the fight against sexual trafficking is portrayed as the best option in that; sexual trafficking is not confined to a single country or a state. Here, there is a need for the combination of effort and the sharing of information within the domestic and the international context. The input from different parties implies that individual efforts are lessened allowing for the identification of general patterns of the crime and create a universal model for the protection of the vulnerable groups, apprehend the traffickers and deter future prevalence.
Summary and Conclusion
Both the United States federal government and the Texas state government have made efforts towards addressing the issue of sexual trafficking. The United States is among the top global destinations for trafficked women and children. The policy change is informed by the need to enhance the prevention of future crimes, punishing of the traffickers and the protection of the sex trafficking victims. Options including the focus on victim protection, multi-agency approach, and mass awareness are at the disposal of the federal and state governments in addressing sexual trafficking.
While the various government levels have strived to curb sexual trafficking at the international and domestic levels, inefficiencies are inherent in the existing policies. The access to information on the risk factors and the vulnerability of individuals provide the grounds for the implementation of the protective and preventive measures that strive at addressing the sexual trafficking menace. While disadvantages are imminent in the various options at the disposal of the Texas state government and the United States federal government, there is need to create a deeper understanding of the problem and create a consensus in the legislative processes to focus on the protection of victims and prevention of future crimes. Multi-agency approach will allow for a holistic approach to the eradication of sexual trafficking as agencies will be able to share information and resources for a joint effort.
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