Moving Upstream: The Merits of a Public Health Law Approach to Human Trafficking
61 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2011 Last revised: 15 May 2014
Date Written: January 18, 2011
Human trafficking, a gross violation of human rights and human dignity, has been identified by numerous government leaders as one of the priority issues of our time. Legislative efforts over the past decade have produced a patchwork of criminal laws and some assistance programs for victims. There is no evidence, however, that these efforts have reduced the incidence of trafficking. This lack of meaningful progress prompts questions as to what the best framework is for addressing human trafficking. This Article begins with a discussion of the limitations inherent in the current law-enforcement-centric approach to the problem. It then explores the merits of a public health approach to human trafficking. As evidenced with governmental and community responses to issues such as road safety and smoking, public health strategies have proven successful in reducing harm by focusing on prevention and addressing underlying causes. Ultimately, this Article concludes that, although a public health approach alone is not sufficient, public health methodologies can advance anti-trafficking efforts in ways currently underutilized or not contemplated by a criminal law model, and reveal deep-seated structural challenges impeding the success of current legislative and policy initiatives designed to combat human trafficking.
Keywords: Human Trafficking, Public Health, Prevention, Evidence-Based Research, Root Causes, Children
JEL Classification: K14, K30, K32, O20, H50, I18, I10, D70, J16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation