Sex Trafficking Legislation Around the World

A look into some the sex trafficking legislation around the world that has made an impact on child sex trafficking.

UNICEF defines child trafficking as the the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons under 18 by use of force or threat to exploit that person. Although numbers are difficult to calculate UNICEF estimated in a 2009 report that about 1.2 million children are trafficked around the world each year. Those 1.2 million are exploited for profit, labor and sex.;xNLx;;xNLx;After reports in August 2014 of a 16 year-long child sex ring in Rotherham, England, involving around 1,400 children, Global Journalist wanted to take a look at how laws around the world have changed over time and how they are trying to protect victims.

1921-09-30 00:00:00

League of Nations sets anti-trafficking goals

This multilateral treaty signed by the League of Nations was a watershed because it set new goals in the fight against human trafficking at the international level. This convention also contributed to the official recognition of the anti-trafficking movement worldwide.

1950-01-26 00:00:00

India's constitution bars trafficking

In newly independent India's constitution, the trafficking of persons in forced begging, sex and other types of labor is specifically prohibited.

1956-08-02 00:00:00

U.K. act bans trafficking in girls

The Sexual Offences Act of 1956, outlaws “causing or encouraging prostitution of, intercourse with, or indecent assault on, girl under sixteen.”

1956-12-30 00:00:00

India's Immoral Traffic Act - India

Among other provisions, India's new law allows for the prosecution of pimps, brothel owners and those who capture force people into prostitution.

1960-01-01 00:00:00

Thailand's Suppression of Prostitution Act - Thailand

The first law in Thailand that made prostitution illegal, it also aimed to reform prostitutes by offering them medical and vocational assistance.

1976-01-01 00:00:00

Polish statute bans prostitution encouragement

A new Polish statute criminalizes not only prostitution but the 'incitement' of another to prostitution.

1976-02-09 00:00:00

India law bars bonded labor

The act set out to abolish the bonded labor system, preventing the economic and physical exploitation of workers--including sex workers. Laborers were treated as victims under the act, rather than criminals.

1989-11-20 00:00:00

U.N. Rights of Child Convention

This multilateral treaty was a watershed because it set new goals in the fight against human trafficking. Now ratified by 193 countries, Included is a provision that says "the State shall protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse, including prostitution and involvement in pornography."

1989-11-27 01:02:24

Colombia's Code for Minors

One provision of the law criminalizes violence, exploitation and sexual abuse against children.

1991-01-02 20:07:43

U.K. Sexual Offense Act Update

Updating a 1956 law, it specifically outlaws “causing or encouraging prostitution of, intercourse with, or indecent assault on, a girl under sixteen”.

1993-01-01 00:00:00

Germany bans child sex tourism

A new law allows Germans having sex with children under the age of 14 anywhere in the world to be punished with up to 10 years in jail.

1994-01-25 00:04:37

U.S. - Wetterling Act creates predator registry

The law requires states release a public registry of convicted sex offenders.

1994-02-01 00:00:00

France passes child sex tourism law

This law allows for the prosecution of French citizens who have paid for sex with a minor anywhere in the world.

1994-04-22 18:27:35

Dominican Republic proscribes child trafficking

Anyone trafficking, abusing or luring children into prostitution faces two to five years in jail as part of a new law protecting children's rights.

1994-07-05 00:00:00

Australia outlaws child sex tourism

Criminalizes those who encourage, benefit or profit from any activity that promotes sexual activity with children. Those who have sex with a child under 12 face up to 25 years in jail.

1995-03-15 00:00:00

Australia bans soliciting children online

This act amended the existing Australian legislation criminalizes online child grooming for the purposes of sexual contact. It set a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail.

1995-11-23 00:00:00

Spain criminalizes pimping minors

A Spanish law criminalizes prostitution of minors and corruption of minors with prison sentences of one to five years.

1996-01-16 00:19:14

Cambodian law raises penalties for trafficking

A Cambodian law penalizes trafficking with sentences as long as 20 years. Brothel owners and pimps are also targeted with punishments of 5 to 20 years depending on the age of the victim.

1996-09-27 07:42:30

Guatemala law protects children from traffickers

A new law in Guatemala guarantees the “right for children and teenagers to be protected against trafficking, kidnapping and sale."

1996-10-14 00:00:00

Thailand changes prostitution laws

Thailand repeals its 1960 Prostitution Suppression Act. Fines for prostitution reduced to 1,000 Baht [U.S. $31]. Those who have sex with someone between 15 to 18 face up to three years in jail, while adults convicted of having sex with someone under 15 face up to six years in jail. Convictions for sexual trafficking of children under 15 can result in sentences of up to 20 years. Parents too can face fines and jail if they know of their child's circumstances and fail to act.

1997-05-26 00:00:00

Canada criminalizes child sex tourism

Aiming at preventing repeat sexual offences by dangerous offenders, Canada's Bill C-27 amended allowed for extraterritorial application of Canada’s criminal law to Canadians who pay for sex with children outside the country.

1998-10-02 05:34:39

Venezuela law punishes parents for selling children to traffickers

Venezuela enacts a law that strips child custody from parents who sell their children into prostitution or sexually abuse them.

2000-10-28 00:00:00

U.S. enacts landmark anti-trafficking law

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act enables people trafficked into the U.S. to become citizens if they cooperate in prosecuting those who trafficked them. Additionally, the law establishes a State Department office to monitor international trafficking. It also criminalizes people who “knowingly recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, or maintain a minor knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the victim is a minor and would be caused to engage in a commercial sex act.” It does not require proof that the defendant used force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion.

2000-11-15 00:00:00

U.N. adopts anti-trafficking protocol

The U.N. General Assembly adopts an agreement designed to prevent human trafficking, protect human trafficking victims, and promote cooperation between nations. Signatories are required to adopt national laws that would prohibit human trafficking.

2000-12-30 00:00:00

India passes Juvenile Justice Act

Amending a 1986 law, the act specifically defined a child in need of care and protection as one that is in danger of being trafficked or sexually exploited. In addition, it treated the children as victims, not offenders.

2001-11-21 00:00:00

Romania enacts anti-trafficking law

Romania, a hub of human trafficking from Asia to Europe, passes a law prohibiting all forms of trafficking in persons and prescribes penalties of up to 15 years in jail for those convicted.

2002-01-01 00:00:00

Indonesia raises penalties for child exploitation

Indonesia's enacts a child protection law that provides stiffer penalties for economic or sexual exploitation of children. Those who use violence or trickery to get children to engage in sexual acts can be punished with up to 15 years in jail.

2002-03-05 00:00:00

France increases penalties for soliciting children

Those convicted of soliciting commercial sex services from a child face up to three years in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros.

2002-09-30 00:00:00

Canada cracks down on Internet grooming

Canada's bill C-15A criminalizes communication with children over the Internet for the purposes of committing a sexual offense.

2003-04-30 00:00:00

U.S. raises penalties for repeat offenders

The PROTECT Act criminalizes child sex tourism overseas by Americans. It also increases penalties for repeat offenders and authorizes wiretapping of child sex offenders.

2003-08-07 00:00:00

Dominican Republic raises penalties for trafficking

The Dominican Republic, a center of human trafficking, enacts anti-trafficking laws with penalties of up to 20 years--commensurate with those for rape. The law is based on principles from the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

2003-11-20 00:00:00

U.K. revises sex offense laws

Replacing a 1956 law, the Sexual Offenses Act of 2003 created several new offenses such as child prostitution, sex trafficking causing a child to watch a sexual act.

2003-12-22 00:00:00

EU says members must ban child trafficking

European Union requires that each member enact laws banning child sexual exploitation and child pornography with sentences of up to 3 years in jail.

2005-02-09 00:00:00

Germany splits definition of traffickign

After much debate, a new German law distinguishes two types of human trafficking: for the exploitation of labor, and for the exploitation of sex.

2005-07-12 00:00:00

Scotland updates sex offense laws

Scotland enacts a law similar to the 2003 revised sex offenses laws enacted in England and Wales. It also criminalizes the act of scheduling a meeting with a child in order to abuse him or her.

2005-12-05 00:00:00

Ghana passes anti-trafficking law

Ghanaian act outlaws all forms of human trafficking, including child sex trafficking. It also provides for the rescue and rehabilitation of trafficking victims. The act does not give specific criminal charges or suggested sentences for violations of the act, however.

2006-07-01 00:00:00

Congo enacts sex crime law

A new law in the Democratic Republic of Congo prescribes penalties of 10 to 20 years in prison for sex trafficking and sexually exploiting children.

2007-01-10 00:00:00

India bans child marriage

This act sought to abolish the marriage of children to older partners, often for a profit. Male minors were defined as someone under 21, while female minors were someone under 18. Any marriage that would take a minor out of their legal guardianship, whether by force or sale, would be considered null and void. The act did not provide a specific punishment for offenders, though.

2007-02-16 00:00:00

Poland law aids trafficked immigrants

Polish law grants support due to those who are a victim or witness in the prosecution of human trafficking cases. The law allows foreign victims to stay at a crisis intervention center.

2008-01-30 00:00:00

Thailand enacts anti-trafficking law

A Thai law prohibits all types of human trafficking, carrying prison sentences of four to 10 years. The law says trafficking victims can claim compensation from offenders, and are to be given shelter and medical assistance.

2009-08-01 20:26:39

Brazil raises sentences for traffickers

A Brazilian law strengthens penalties against traffickers offenders who promote or facilitate prostitution in Brazil or outside the country. Those convicted of child sex trafficking face up to 12 years in prison.

2010-01-01 00:00:00

Netherlands cracks down on online predators

The Netherlands enacts a law banning the online 'grooming' of children under age 16. Those convicted may face punishment of two years in prison.

2011-09-01 00:00:00

Liberia passes children's law

The West African state enacts a law based on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. It includes a provision asserts the right for children to be protected from abuse and exploitation.

2013-04-16 00:00:00

Costa Rica law penalizes online child seduction

A Costa Rican law makes it an offense to seduce a child by any electronic means and prescribes a penalty of one to three years in jail for offenders establishing sexual communication with children under 15.

2013-07-12 00:00:00

'Uniform' law draft recognizes child victims

The U.S.'s Uniform Law Commission, an advisory group that drafts model legislation for state legislatures, drafts a model bill that advises that minors who have been sexually exploited through trafficking be treated as victims rather than juvenile delinquents.

2014-05-21 20:26:39

Brazil raises child trafficking penalties

In advance of hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil increases the penalties for inducing or enticing those under 18 into prostitution. Those convicted face up to 10 years in jail. Those convicted of commercial sex with minors between 14 and 18 face the same penalty.

2014-09-29 01:02:24

U.S. law aims to prevent trafficking

The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act includes provisions designed to improve information sharing about sex trafficking and missing children. It also includes reforms to the U.S. foster care system, which is a source of sexually-exploited children.

Sex Trafficking Legislation Around the World

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