Human Trafficking Awareness Month
By: Hannah Rabalais, Program Officer
As human trafficking awareness month comes to an end, we want to thank all of our partners, advocates, and those on the ground combating this issue every day. For us at the Kleinert Foundation, this is not an issue we only focus on in January; it's our primary focus area. We are inspired to see awareness raised, but we know there's so much more to be done. We believe that everyone has a seat at the table, and it will take our whole community coming together to move the needle. If you're unsure of your place in the anti-trafficking movement, find your lane with this quiz by survivor and advocate, Rebecca Bender. https://rebeccabender.org/quiz
We understand that this issue is overwhelming and there can be a lot of misinformation surrounding sex-trafficking. Below we have provided definitions and key statistics to help our readers learn and understand the reality of this issue.
What is Sex Trafficking?
According to the Polaris Project, "Sex traffickers use threats, manipulation, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. Under U.S. law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking — regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion."
"The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary dramatically. Many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces or manipulates them into prostitution. Others are lured in with false promises of a job, such as modeling or dancing. Some are forced to sell sex by their parents or other family members. They may be involved in a trafficking situation for a few days or weeks, or may remain in the same trafficking situation for years."
"Victims of sex trafficking can be U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, women, men, children, and LGBTQ individuals. Vulnerable populations are frequently targeted by traffickers, including runaway and homeless youth, as well as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war, or social discrimination."
"Sex trafficking occurs in a range of venues including fake massage businesses, via online ads or escort services, in residential brothels, on the street or at truck stops, or at hotels and motels."
Texas and Dallas Key Statistics
- The National Trafficking hotline gets the second largest number of calls from Texas. Since 2007, there have been 19,419 contacts made from the state of Texas. (contacts -- phone calls, texts, online chats, emails, and webforms)
-In 2019 alone, there were 411 sex trafficking cases reported in Texas.
- The top two venues where sex trafficking was reported in 2019 in Texas were illicit massage parlors and hotels/motels.
-Appromixetly 79,000 minors and youth are victims of sex trafficking in Texas.
- Minor and youth sex trafficking costs the state of Texas approximately $6.6 billion.
- Within 48 hours of being on the streets of Dallas, sex traffickers will approach a runaway teen according to the Dallas Police Department.
- The Urban Institute estimates that the Dallas sex trade is a $99 million crime.
- In Dallas, women controlled by traffickers are typically forced to make $1,000 per day and are beaten or suffer witnessing beatings if they cannot provide that amount.
- There are an estimated 400 trafficked teens on the street each night in Dallas.
Related legislation that was passed last year in Texas:
These bills took effect on September 1, 2019:
Senate Bill 20 (Huffman/S. Thompson) enhances tools to fight online sex trafficking, increases the penalties for buyers and creates a process for victims to clear their records of certain offenses committed solely as a victim of trafficking.
House Bill 8 (Neave/Nelson) tackles the rape kit backlog in Texas by requiring an audit of untested kits, establishing timelines for results to be submitted, and extending the statute of limitations.
House Bill 1590 (Howard/Watson) creates a Sexual Assault Survivors’ Task Force within the Office of the Governor to catalog services, identify gaps, and coordinate efforts across the state to strategically address sexual assault
.House Bill 2613 (Frullo/Huffman) directs forfeited proceeds from stash houses to services that aid victims of human trafficking.
Senate Bill 71 (Nelson/S. Thompson) establishes a statewide telehealth center to expand victim access to specially trained sexual assault nurse examiners.
In the United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), as amended by the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (JVTA), defines sex trafficking as “recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of an individual through the means of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex”. However, it is not necessary to demonstrate force, fraud, or coercion in sex trafficking cases involving children under the age of 18. The term “commercial sex act” is defined as “any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person” (22 U.S.C. 7102). Anything of value could include a place to stay, drugs, clothing, food, or higher status in a gang.
"In October 2000, Congress passed the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), and President Clinton signed the first federal law to address human trafficking. This Act is the anchor for federal human trafficking legislation in the United States.
Between 2000 and 2010, the time of Obama’s Presidential Proclamation, the United States made significant strides to combat human trafficking. Between 2001 and 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice prosecuted 360 defendants and gained 238 convictions. Between January 2008 and 2010, the FBI investigated 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking in the United States, clear evidence this crime was active and growing within the United States. According to the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report released by the U.S. Department of State, in FY 2009 alone, the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit charged 114 individuals and obtained 47 convictions, representing the highest number of prosecutions and defendants charged in a given year at that time.
Since 2010, reauthorizations of the TVPA have continued to hinder traffickers and protect victims. In 2013, the reauthorization established the Child Protection Compact program by entering into agreements with countries to provide technical and financial assistance to eradicate the exploitation of children. It also substantiated the relationship between state and local law enforcement to ease charging and prosecuting traffickers.
In 2018, the reauthorization increased authorized funds for victim services, outlined requirements and standards to train front-line workers in susceptible industries for trafficking, and strengthened the U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report by providing more accurately analyzed and ranked country reports. It also established human trafficking prosecutors in every federal judicial district and required the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice to create a new victim-centered protocols."
If you would like to be connected to volunteer opportunities, please email Hannah Rabalais at email@example.com
To learn more, please visit https://www.kleinertfdn.org/traffickingresources