When many people hear about human trafficking (the modern slave trade), they think it only exists in far away places--not here in the US. But while it's true that slavery is more prevalent in Asia and Africa, it happens right here in Texas too.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Texas ranked number 2 in the number of calls places to the hotline (just behind California--I'll be posting about that later for my California friends). That doesn't necessarily mean there's more slavery here than other states...it could just mean that more people here are aware of the problem and so are reporting suspected activity more often. More telling perhaps that Mosaic Family Services in Dallas typically serves 100 victims a year (Dallas News). Here's just a couples of specific incidences of slavery in Texas I found on SlaveryMap.org*.
- A San Antonio man is on trial for the kidnapping, rape and prostitution of a 13-year-old runaway.
- A couple in Arlington, TX enticed a widowed Nigerian mother of six to
come to the United States to be their domestic servant by falsely
promising a salary and support for her children. Once she came here they
confiscated her documents, isolated her, and compelled her to work long
hours with no days off. The victim also says the husband sexually
assaulted her while she was working for them. (The couple have been
convicted of forced labor and various other charges)
(*UPDATE: SlaveryMap.org sadly no longer exists. )
So, what is Texas doing to combat this? I'm kinda proud here. As far as laws related to human trafficking, Texas ranks fairly well, according to reports by Polaris Project* and Shared Hope* Texas is doing better than average. These reports said Texas was doing well in the training and and other tools it offers law enforcement to combat trafficking. There was one area, however, that both reports found Texas lacking in: Namely that Texas law leaves some victims of trafficking open to criminal convictions for prostitution that was committed as a result of being trafficked. This is so important to address, because not only does that punish the victim, but also some traffickers sometimes use the threat of criminal convictions to keep their victims from seeking help from the police. Texas has some laws in place to keep that from happening (for instance, children under 14 can not be charged with prostitution), but there are holes in the protection that need fixing.
OK, that's what our government is doing--but what can individuals do about this issue? A lot. To learn what you can do, visit this link, or contact the Texas organizations below:
TEXAS HUMAN TRAFFICKING RESOURCES