Human trafficking

How can you help stop human trafficking?

By JENNI BLACKSTOCK
and KATHRYN KEETON

Did you know that there are an estimated 40 million victims of human trafficking around the world?

  • More than 300,000 of them are in Texas
  • Of those 40 million victims, 13 MILLION are CHILDREN
  • Today, a slave costs about $90 on average worldwide.
  • There are more human slaves in the world today than ever before in human history.

From a global economic perspective, human trafficking around the globe is estimated to generate a profit of anywhere from $9 billion to $31.6 billion. Half of these profits are made in industrialized countries such as the U.S. (all 50 states) and the U.K.  Criminal organizations are increasingly attracted to human trafficking because, unlike drugs, humans can be sold repeatedly.  Human trafficking is estimated to surpass the drug trade in less than five years.

In Texas alone, traffickers exploit approximately $600 million annually from approximately 234,000 victims of labor trafficking. Another 79,000 minors and youth are victims of sex trafficking in Texas, which in addition to a price that cannot be calculated in dollars and cents, cost the state approximately $6.6 billion for lifetime care, according to the 2016 study “Human Trafficking by the Numbers: Initial Benchmarks of Prevalence & Economic Impact in Texas,” by the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, UT-Austin.

Fighting human trafficking requires a whole-of-society effort, with lawmakers, law enforcement officials, NGOs, survivors, the private sector, and consumers all united in our efforts.  Since 2009, 194 pieces of anti-trafficking legislation have been passed in countries around the world.  Under President Obama’s presidency, a U.S. task force was created to monitor and combat trafficking that forged unprecedented collaboration in the federal government, increased prosecutor capacity and improved victim identification/assistance efforts nationwide.

While many challenges remain, the United States is contributing to a strong foundation in fighting this crime.  With continued bipartisan political commitment and support by organizations like League of Women Voters, the United States will continue to be a leader in the effort to rid the world of the exploitation of human beings for profit.

Sex traffickers often recruit children because not only are children more unsuspecting and vulnerable than adults, but there is also a high market demand for young victims. Traffickers target victims on the telephone, on the Internet, through friends, at the mall, and in after-school programs.  Human trafficking victims face physical risks, such as drug and alcohol addiction, contracting STDs (sex trafficking plays a major role in the spread of HIV), sterility, miscarriages, forced abortions, and vaginal and anal trauma, among others. Psychological effects include developing clinical depression, personality and dissociative disorders, suicidal tendencies, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and complex post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Besides the sex industry, children are also being recruited to serve in military capacities around the world. UNICEF estimates that 300,000 children younger than 18 are currently trafficked to serve in armed conflicts worldwide.

Alarmingly, human traffickers are increasingly trafficking pregnant women for their newborns. Babies are sold on the black market, where the profit is divided between the traffickers, doctors, lawyers, border officials, and others.

Due to globalization, global warming and severe natural disasters, millions are left homeless and impoverished, which has created desperate people easily exploited by human traffickers on every conti-

 

nent.

According to the U.S. State Department, human trafficking is one of the greatest human rights challenges of this century, both in the United States and around the world.

Sources: Skinner, E. Benjamin. A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery. New York, NY: Free Press, 2008; 11 Facts about Human Trafficking." Do Something. Accessed: March 5, 2017;   Shelley, Louise. Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010;  https://www.factretriever.com/human-trafficking-facts;  “How the Obama Administration fought human trafficking” Susan Coppedge and Amy Pope: 2017.

Human trafficking in Texas
Illustration from “Human Trafficking by the Numbers: Initial Benchmarks of Prevalence & Economic Impact in Texas,” by the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, UT-Austin.

Where, when and how to attend the forum

To educate and increase awareness about this important topic and identify how we can work to address this challenge in San Antonio, the Leaders for Democracy, a unit of the League of Women Voters of the San Antonio Area, is sponsoring a forum featuring an expert panel Monday, Oct. 30, from 6-8:30 p.m. at Paesano’s, 3622 Paesanos Pkwy., in Stone Oak.  This forum is free and open to the public.

6-7 p.m. — meet and greet with the panelists/social networking (cash bar and appetizers)

7-8 p.m. — panel (introductions, focused topical discussion from the panel)

8--8:30 p.m. — Q&A session (attendees will have an opportunity to submit their questions)

Our expert panel will include a diverse range of perspectives on this issue including those from law enforcement, the judicial system, gov

ernment and advocacy groups that support human trafficking victims in San Antonio:

  • Judge Peter Sakai, judge of the 225th District Court of Bexar County representing Children’s Court Divisions and Programs
  • Detective Adrian Owens, with the Special Victims Unit of the San Antonio Police Department
  • Rodney Klein, Education and Training Manager at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, specializing in labor trafficking
  • Ransomed Life Advocacy Group Representatives Susan Burkholder and Jennifer Arbeiter

For questions about this event, please contact Jenni Blacklock (jenni.blacklock@gmail.com) or Kathryn Keeton (kathrynekeeton@gmail.com)