Human Trafficking and the Need for Local Action
Although America abolished slave trade more than a century ago, it is sad to note that human trafficking remains one of the most common forms of human rights violation in the modern society. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) human trafficking is the act of a person or group of people having authority over other individuals for the sole purpose of exploitation. While there diverse forms of exploitation such as removal of organs, slavery, and forced labor, sex exploitation is the most ubiquitous in the U.S.A as well as Texas. Notably, about 25% of trafficked persons in the United States are from Texas, and the majorities are young women and children. While there is a federal law, Victims and Violence Protection Act of 2000, that aims to assist victims of human trafficking, there is need for a local approach. Therefore, I request you Honorable Sheila Lee to introduce and support the Texas against Sex Trafficking (TAST) Bill that aims to reduce likelihood of exploitation while at the same time rescuing and protecting victims.
The Cost of Sex Trafficking and the Urgency for Action
In the recent decades, the ever increasing rates of human trafficking, especially for sex exploitation has attracted the attention of social workers, policymakers, health practitioners among others. Hodge argues that sex trafficking of young women and children is undoubtedly one of the most major forms of human rights violations in modern society, and is very costly. “The psychological and physical costs to women and children trafficked into the sex industry is significant” (147). According to a research by the United Nations, over 24.9 million individuals are victims of human trafficking, and 50% of this number is sexually exploited. The report shows that 71% of the sexually exploited victims are women (51%) and girls (20%) (Brinlee n.p). Based on these statistics, the United Nations acknowledges sex exploitation as the most popular form of human trafficking (walkherhome.org n.p). In the United States of America alone, 2 million women and children fall victims of human trafficking every year (walkherhome.org n.p). The United States is the largest market for sex trafficking, and the industry generates over $150 billion annually.
Texas: A Local Hub for Sex Trafficking
Sex trafficking is not only a global and national issue, but also a local concern here in Texas. Human trafficking is rampant in Texas due to its close proximity with the America-Mexico border, which is one of the busiest borders in the world. According to Boyce et al., findings, majority of the participants in the study were young women from Mexico (1052). Moreover, the Department of Health and Human Services noted that about a quarter of all victims of human trafficking into the United States of America pass through Texas, especially Houston. Further, a third of callers who dial the National Human Trafficking Hotline are based in Texas. Given that Houston, Texas is a primary transit route for human trafficking, mainly sexual exploitation, it is essential for you Honorable Sheila Lee to introduce the Texas against Sex Trafficking Bill.
Addressing Sex Trafficking Locally through Policy
In order to reduce and later end the sex exploitation menace in Texas, I would like the state government to introduce a new trafficking policy. This proposal is based on the realization those incidences of sex trafficking have been increasing in Texas despite the enactment of a federal law: Victims and Violence Protection Act of 2000. A recent research showed that there were more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas by 2017 (UTNews n.p). Undoubtedly, there is need for a local approach of ending sex trafficking. Some of the reasons why the Victims and Violence Protection Act of 2000 has not been effective are because people perceive human trafficking as a crime that can only be addressed on a national level. Additionally, the law holds that victims should be willing to testify against the traffickers yet the latter can hurt the latter’s person or family. Finally, victims are reluctant to openly admit that they are victims of a sex syndicate due to stigma. The Texas against Sex Trafficking (TAST) Bill should have mechanisms to not only assist put also protect victims of sex trafficking.
The Importance of a Local-Based Policy in Texas
Introducing a local-based policy that solves sex trafficking in Texas is the best alternative to this solution. In the past, some policy makers, while acknowledging that Texas is a primary gateway for human traffickers have proposed the closure of the American-Mexican border. Proponents of this alternative argue that only way to solve sex trafficking is to lock out human traffickers. While they have a substantial claim, this alternative may lead to the loss of opportunities for Texans to advance their socio-economic wellbeing as many depend on tourists who pass across this boarder. I would like the representative to introduce the Texas against Sex Trafficking (TAST) Bill. The proposed bill is a local version of the Victims and Violence Protection Act of 2000. However, it should contain tougher penalties for human traffickers.
A Call to Action for Representative Sheila Lee
I cannot overemphasize the importance of a local-based policy that aims to solve the sex trafficking menace in Texas. Notably, sex trafficking is rampant in Texas, mainly due to its proximity to the American-Mexican border. Williams asserts that “trafficking in person is an offense against human dignity” (625). Given your commitment to alleviating citizens’ suffering, I am positive that you are best suited to propose the introduction of the Texas against Sext Trafficking Bill. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Boyce, Sabrina C., et al. "Childhood Experiences of Sexual Violence, Pregnancy, and Marriage Associated With Child Sex Trafficking Among Female Sex Workers in Two US–Mexico Border Cities." American journal of public health 0 (2018): e1-e6.
Brinlee, Morgan. 13 Sex Trafficking Statistics That Put The Worldwide Problem into Perspective, Bustle, July 30, 2018, https://www.bustle.com/p/13-sex-trafficking-statistics-that-put-the-worldwide-problem-into-perspective-9930150>
Hodge, David R. "Sexual trafficking in the United States: A domestic problem with transnational dimensions." Social Work53.2 (2008): 143-152.
UTNews. Study Estimates More Than 300,000 Victims of Human Trafficking in Texas. UTNews, Jan 24, 2017, Accessed https://news.utexas.edu/2017/01/24/there-are-300000-victims-of-human-trafficking-in-texas>
Walkherhome.org. Facts and Statistics. Walk her Home, 2018. Web. 30 Oct. 2018.
Williams, Beth A. "Efforts to Stop Human Trafficking." Harv. JL " Pub. Pol'y 41 (2018): 623-629.