Human Trafficking: A Guide for Local Studies
Human Trafficking: A Quick Look
LWV Human Trafficking Slide Show Presentation (Download the .ppt file)
The Texas Attorney General's Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force Report
The Texas Attorney General's Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force Report, evaluating enforcement and victim services, makes recommendations to the Legislature. Click here to see the 2011 and 2008 Attorney General's reports. The following bills have passed and have been signed into law.
2011: 82nd Legislature 2011 - Bill Number, Author/Sponsor, and Brief Description
- SB 24 (Van de Putte/Thompson) stiffening penalties; defining “child” as anyone under 18; allowing victim testimony; making a convicted sex trafficker subject to laws for sex offenders; allowing civil suit for personal injury.
- HB 3000 (Thompson/Van de Putte) establishing an offense for "continuous trafficking," punishable as a first degree felony, with a sentence of life imprisonment or for a term between 25 and 99 years.
- HB 2329 (Zedler/Van de Putte) allowing protective orders for victims of human trafficking and providing for confidentiality of victim information, with penalties for violation of such orders
- HB 1930 (Zedler/Van de Putte) adding the Commissioner of the Department of State Health Services to the membership of the Attorney General's Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force and adding to its charge to examine the extent to which human trafficking is associated with sexually-oriented businesses.
- HB 1994 ((Weber/Van de Putte) creating a first offender prostitution prevention program for johns unless the prostitute is under 18.
2009: 81st Legislature 2009 - Bill Number, Author/Sponsor, and Brief Description
- HB 4009 (Weber/Van de Putte) funding victim assistance and forming a state-wide task force.
- HB 3094 (Harless/Patrick) allowing county authorities to regulate massage parlors.
- HB 533 (Anchia/Van de Putte) allowing victims to bring a civil action against the perpetrator.
- HB 960 (Anchia/Carona) allowing designated authorities to access criminal history record information of license applicants for a sexually oriented business.
- HB 1372 (Shelton/Van de Putte) adding “trafficking of persons” to the definition of "victim."
- SB 379 (Carona/Gullen) requiring the Texas Fusion Center's annual report to address gang involvement in human trafficking.
Federal: Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA): State Dept. website with links to text of the federal “Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) (Public Law 106-386) and amendments.”
28 CFR 1100 (2010): Federal regulations are based on the TVPA.
U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report: The TVPA mandates that the U.S. State Department report on global human trafficking annually. The Report ranks countries, including the United States since 2010, into tiers based on the country's laws, effectiveness in enforcement, corruption, and collaboration with agencies and NGOs to provide services for victims.
Texas Task Forces
Recently, Texas law enforcement agencies and NGOs have come together to increase enforcement, build successful court cases against traffickers, rescue and rehabilitate victims, and to participate in the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force, mandated by law in 2009 to review policy, current law, gaps in protections, and advise on legislation needed.
- Texas Attorney General's Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force
- Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA)
The home page of TAASA provides links to all Texas human trafficking task forces, some of which are also set forth below. TAASA's website shows the contact information for the key people.
- Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA)
This is a Houston-based task force.
- Houston Innocence Lost Task Force (HILTF) and Dallas Innocence Lost Task Force (DILTF)
(From the OAG's 2011 Report, p.5 "..." there are two Texas-based Innocence Lost Task Forces - one each in Dallas and Houston. These task forces focus on children who are sex trafficked within the United States and include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). "..." both Texas-based Innocence Lost task forces independently maintain and track this information about sex trafficking of child victims."
- Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking (CTCAHT) The Austin Human Trafficking Task Force works closely with the CTCAHT. Dallas/Fort Worth Task Force, see TAASA.
- El Paso Human Task Force
Excellent source of links to further information.
Houston NGOs ("Non-governmental Organizations")
Houston NGOs offer advocacy, training, outreach, and education as well as direct services to both domestic and international victims.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play a key role in advocating for improved legislation and resources for victims, educating and training law enforcement and legal personnel, and raising awareness in the community about the problem "hidden in plain sight."
- Catholic Charities
- Children at Risk
- Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition
- YMCA of Greater Houston International Services
Here is a sampling of websites offering information on human trafficking.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families maintains a website with information and links to resources on human trafficking.
- a href="http://childrenatrisk.org/research/child-trafficking/">Children at Risk presents a video on child trafficking in Texas.
- a href="link http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=40">Bureau of Justice Statistics
- Homeland Security Human Trafficking
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Human Trafficking
- The Blue Campaign The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services devotes this web page, on the Homeland Security website, to human trafficking. Links to resources and information.
- FBI is a member of local Houston human trafficking task forces.
- The Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission Texas statutes and regulations regarding human trafficking are included in the requirements to obtain a liquor license. The TABC reports on its human trafficking investigations.
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime "Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling"
- Women's Funding Network Domestic Sex Trafficking of Minors 2010, State-by-state cases reported by the media.
- "Shifting the Paradigm from Prosecution to Protection for Child Victims of Prostitution" Published by the National District Attorney's Association.
- HumanTrafficking.org News and country-by-country reports.
- "Trafficking Monitor" A good, general blog on trafficking, both labor and sex trafficking.
- "The Health Risks and Consequences of Trafficking in Women and Adolescents. Findings from a European Study"
- Evidence-Based Mental Health Treatment for Victims of Human Trafficking Example of research on the issues of mental health and human trafficking.
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Human Trafficking
Included here are news articles from Texas and other sources about human trafficking.
Once one starts looking for news stories and magazine articles, one realizes that both sex and labor human trafficking is a complicated issue: catching the traffickers, successfully prosecuting and convicting them, finding the victims, providing services for them, making the community aware of the problem.
- Press for LWV-HEF's Study on Human Trafficking: Houston Chronicle, February 13, 2011: Rick Casey interviewed League members involved in the study, his column appeared February 13, 2011. League members were interviewed by KTET.
- 4/26/2012 ABC News: Girls Sold for Sex Online, Backpage Defends Decision to Keep Ads
- Slavery by Another Name, a documentary airing 2012 on PBS. Read more about the film here.
- Weekly radio program "Trafficked" Current program and archives of satellite radio program with guests, hosted by Dottie Laster.
- 6/21/2011 The Daily Beast: Today's Hidden Sex Slaves by Michelle Goldberg. "The likelihood that a smart phone was not touched by a slave is pretty low."
- 5/24/2011 Vanity Fair: "Human Trafficking: The Girls Next Door" .The author "follows a major case that put to the test the federal government's Trafficking Victims Protection Act."
- 5/14/2011 The Guardian: "Trafficking Victims Lured to UK" "On average there have been 25 convictions a year for sex trafficking since 2004, with only eight in England last year. Scotland and Wales have yet to record a single successful prosecution. Senior legal sources say that is too easy for accused traffickers to plead guilty to lesser charges." (To compare: England has a population of about 51 million; Texas, about 24 million.)
- 4/18/2011 Sam Houston State College of Criminal Justice News: "Houston Region Is a Hub for Human Trafficking"
- 4/14/2011 Galveston County Daily News: "Lawsuit: Companies Engaged in Human Trafficking"
- 4/05/2011 Houston Community News: "Ministry Provides Safe House for Child Sex Trafficking Victims"
- 2/18/2011 Houston Chronicle: "Feds Bust East Houston Sex Slave Ring"
- 2/13/11 Houston Chronicle Rick Casey interview with members of the LWV-Houston Area
- 02/17/ 2011 Fox News "Feds Break Up Sex Slave Ring" (with video)
- 10/04/2010 KUHF: "Human Trafficking: Houston's Hidden Problem"
- 4/01/2010 Texas Monthly: "The Lost Girls
Don't Confuse Human Trafficking with Human Smuggling
Do you know the difference? Trafficking vs. Smuggling: What's the Difference?
Human trafficking and smuggling of persons are often confused and seen as the same thing. This is incorrect. These are distinct criminal activities, and the terms are not interchangeable.
Human trafficking centers on exploitation and is generally defined as:
- Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
- Recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.
Human smuggling centers on transportation and is generally defined as:
- Importation of people into the United States involving deliberate evasion of immigration laws. This offense includes bringing illegal aliens into the country, as well as the unlawful transportation and harboring of aliens already in the United States.
Sex Trafficking vs. Prostitution
Prostitution is part of sex trafficking. It is not the same as sex trafficking. Differences affect legal issues, legislative efforts, public policy, rescue and rehabilitation of victims, and psychological dynamics of the victim or prostitute.
"Victims of trafficking are forced into various forms of commercial sexual exploitation including prostitution, pornography, stripping, live-sex shows, mail-order brides, military prostitution and sex tourism.
Victims trafficked into prostitution and pornography are usually involved in the most exploitive forms of commercial sex operations. Sex trafficking operations can be found in highly-visible venues such as street prostitution, as well as more underground systems such as closed brothels that operate out of residential homes. Sex trafficking also takes place in a variety of public and private locations such as massage parlors, spas, strip clubs and other fronts for prostitution. Victims may start off dancing or stripping in clubs and then be coerced into situations of prostitution and pornography."" - From the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Fact Sheet.
How you can help
To report human trafficking, call the toll-free, 24/7 hotline: 1.888.373.7888
SIGNS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
- Is the person accompanied by a controlling person or boss?
- Does the person speak on his or her own behalf?
- Does the person lack control over personal schedule, money, ID?
- Is the person transported to or from work?
- Does the person live and work in the same place?
- Does the person owe a debt to employer/crew leader?
- Is the person unable to leave his or her job?
- Does the person seem afraid, depressed or overly submissive?
- Does the person have bruises or other signs of physical abuse?
Human trafficking inflicts physical and psychological damage, including “traumatic bonding,” which is “a form of coercive control in which the perpetrator instills in the victim fear as well as gratitude for being allowed to live.”–from Sex Trafficking Fact Sheet, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families