January 11 marks National Human Trafficking Awareness day, but Angel Reyes – Reyes Browne Reilley is taking the rest of the week to touch on a few topics everyone should read up on. Everyone needs to take the extra steps to stay safe and cautious, especially when traveling.
Exploitation and Slavery
So, what is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is a serious crime. Furthermore, it’s a serious violation of human rights, involving force, coercion, or fraud to exploit a person into slave labor or sexual exploitation.
Contrary to popular belief, the US ranks as one of the worst countries globally for human trafficking. With an estimate that 199,000 incidents occur within the U.S. every year, Texas consistently ranks as the #2 state for highest number of cases.
Human trafficking can happen to people of all ages and genders, any race or religious background. There are four major types of trafficking: adult sex trafficking; adult labor trafficking; child sex trafficking; and child labor trafficking.
Adult Sex Trafficking – Trafficking of adults for sex by force, fraud, or coercion in strip clubs, brothels, massage parlors, street prostitution, or internet prostitution.
Adult Labor Trafficking – Trafficking adults for labor by force, fraud, or coercion into industries, such as agriculture, food service, manufacturing, domestic servitude, or hospitality.
Child Sex Trafficking – Trafficking children, under the age of 18, by any means into the commercial sex industry.
Child Labor Trafficking – Trafficking children, under the age of 18, by force, fraud or coercion into industries such as agriculture, food service, manufacturing, domestic servitude, or hospitality.
One in five victims are children.
Signs of Abuse
Human trafficking is hidden in plain sight. Shared Hope has listed some common indications that a minor may be a victim:
- Physical abuse such as burn marks, bruises or cuts
- Unexplained absences from class
- Sexualized behavior
- Overly tired in class
- Withdrawn, depressed, distracted or checked out
- Brags about making or having lots of money
- Less appropriately dressed than before or new expensive clothes, accessories or shoes
- New tattoo (tattoos are often used by pimps as a way to brand victims. Tattoos of a name, symbol of money or barcode could indicate trafficking)
- Older boyfriend or new friends with a different lifestyle
- Talks about wild parties or invites other students to attend parties
- Shows signs of gang affiliation (color colors, notebook doodles of gang symbols, etc.)
Check out The Attorney General of Texas’s website for further details on these signs, as well as specifics for the different types of trafficking.
Common Characteristics of Traffickers
In the fight against human trafficking, one of the most frustrating facts is that there is no particular look for a trafficker. One of these characteristics alone is not an indication of a trafficker, but several altogether may point to something bigger taking place. Evil comes in all forms, shapes, and sizes. Even from the people who are suppose to love and look out for you.
Traffickers are people who treat human life as an object that they can manipulate and exploit for their own benefit. According to Shared Hope, common behaviors of traffickers can look like:
- Jealous, controlling and violent
- Significantly older than female companions
- Promise things that seem too good to be true
- Encourage victims to engage in illegal activities to achieve their goals and dreams
- Buys expensive gifts or owns expensive items
- Is vague about his/her profession
- Pushy or demanding about sex
- Encourages inappropriate sexual behavior
- Makes the victim feel responsible for his/her financial stability. Very open about financial matters.
The Attorney General of Texas
The Attorney General’s office released a statement in their action plan, “in response to the calls for coordination of human trafficking prevention programs and services administered in Texas, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 72 during the 86th Legislative Session (2019) directing the Office of the Attorney General to establish the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Coordinating Council to work towards effectively and efficiently eradicating human trafficking.”
To date, there are 234,000 victims of labor trafficking, and 79,000 victims of youth and minor sex trafficking in Texas at any given time.
Take the extra steps by becoming educated and trained on actual cases prosecuted in the state of Texas, identifying tools of traffickers and how they are utilized to obtain and maintain victims, as well as noticing the red flags and how to properly report.
Angel Reyes – Reyes Browne Reilley wants to make sure that we are doing everything we can to educate our community, and make a difference in each other’s lives. We want to change the culture in which we live from one that identifies with and honors perpetrators to one that provides safety, security, and genuine reintegration for the survivors of human trafficking.