Publication Date



The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) was passed to “combat trafficking in persons, a contemporary manifestation of slavery whose victims are predominantly women and children, to ensure just and effective punishment of traffickers, and to protect their victims.”1 Since the passing of the Act, federal courts have construed the statute broadly to achieve this stated purpose. One way in which the TVPA has been underutilized, however, is in prosecuting pornography cases. Pornography enjoys wide latitude under the law, protected by a vast net of First Amendment protections. While these protections may preserve freedom of speech, they do nothing to protect adult victims who are trafficked to produce online pornographic media. To provide relief for these victims and better fight all types of domestic trafficking, prosecutors should use the sex trafficking provision of the TVPA, 18 U.S.C. § 1591, to prosecute sex trafficking within the pornography industry. The pattern of victimization, other national and international human trafficking directives, plain language of the TVPA, prior cases, and broader policy goals all support the argument that the TVPA can and should be used to address the problem of trafficking adult victims for the production of porn.