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Unpublished Paper
Decriminalizing Victims of Sex Trafficking
  • Michelle Madden Dempsey, Villanova University School of Law

Despite the United States’ commitment to decriminalizing victims of sex trafficking and the obvious injustice of subjecting these victims to criminal penalties, the majority of jurisdictions throughout the U.S. continue to treat sex trafficking victims as criminals. This paper argues that the criminal law must abandon this practice. Part one presents a brief account of definitional and conceptual debates regarding what counts as sex trafficking. Part two explains why we must decriminalize victims of sex trafficking. Part three outlines four methods of decriminalizing sex trafficking victims, and defends what has come to be known as the “Nordic model” as the most effective means of achieving this decriminalization. American Criminal Law Review (forthcoming).

  • Sex Trafficking,
  • Commercial Sexual Exploitation,
  • Criminalization,
  • Abolitionism,
  • Nordic Model,
  • Justifications of Punishment,
  • Palermo Protocol
Publication Date
Citation Information
Michelle Madden Dempsey. "Decriminalizing Victims of Sex Trafficking" (2014)
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