The Reality of Human Trafficking in 2020
Most people in the United States probably assume that human trafficking and slavery ended more than a century ago, but unfortunately, this industry continues to thrive even today. It’s estimated that 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide and forced into sex slavery or forced slavery, and women and young girls are estimated to make up 96 percent of human sex trafficking victims.
Quick Stats surrounding human trafficking and slavery in the U.S. and Texas:
- An estimate 18,000 people in the U.S. will be the victims of human trafficking each year
- 80% of human trafficking victims are women
- 50% of human trafficking victims are children and minors
- Texas has the second highest number of reported human trafficking crimes in the U.S.
- Houston is believed to be a major hub for human trafficking in the U.S.
What is Human Trafficking?
According to the United States Department of Justice, the term “human trafficking” can be used to describe many forms of exploitation of human beings. For many, these words often conjure up images of victims being smuggled across international borders, but this isn’t always the case, and the term has a specific definition under the United States Criminal Code. Human trafficking crimes involve compelling or coercing a person into labor, services, or commercial sex acts. The coercion can be subtle or overt, physical or psychological, but it must be used to force a victim into performing labor, services, or commercial sex acts to fall under the legal definition of human trafficking.
Women, undocumented migrants, and children are the most vulnerable groups, and it’s estimated that over 100,000 children are forced into prostitution each year – contributing to the more than $9.8 billion sex trafficking industry in the United States.
Internet and Social Media Influence
In recent times, the internet and social media have made it even easier to solicit, trap, and even sell victims anonymously. In addition, social media has made it easier for predators to target victims all across the globe, and internet sex trafficking creates new challenges for law enforcement.
Offenders often use a variety of tactics to gain the trust of their targets, and some examples of tactics sex traffickers may employ include:
- Expressing love and admiration for a victim
- Promising opportunities for acting, modeling or singing
- Promising to take care of a victim in a difficult situation
- Promising job opportunities or the chance to start a new life
Victims will often agree to meet the trafficker in another city where they are isolated from family and friends. Once there, the trafficker will often take away the victim’s identification and subject them to beatings or other forms of physical punishment until they comply. In some cases, the trafficker will threaten a victim’s family to deter them from running or escaping, and they may also force the victim to take drugs against their will.
Some Simple Ways to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Human Trafficking
- Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
Many people are distracted by their phones or other little things when walking. Make sure that you’re aware of your surroundings so that you can spot when something is off. If you notice a person or a car following you, alert someone you trust immediately.
- Avoid Walking Alone
While it’s not the most common occurrence, people are sometimes forcibly kidnapped while walking on the street. For your own safety, try to avoid walking alone, especially in quiet or poorly lit areas.
- Be Smart On Social Media
Be wary of strangers who message you after you post something personal on social media, especially if they offer you help, advice, money, a place to stay or a job opportunity. If you’re getting random messages from people on social media, check your privacy settings and only make your posts visible to your friends (not to the public). It’s also advised to avoid checking in to places on social media.
- Be Ready For Anything
Carry pepper spray or other items you can defend yourself with. You also need to mentally prepare yourself to fight off an abductor. If you are attacked, make a scene, yell for help, and fight back like your life depends on it.
- Meet Strangers In Public Places
Don’t let anyone know where you live until you get to know them. So for a date, meet them at a public place for the first few times until you get to know them and feel comfortable. Stay in contact with friends and family if you’re out alone or with someone you don’t know very well.
Spotting Signs of Human Trafficking
While this list is by no means exhaustive and not all indicators will be present in all situations, it can give an idea of things to look out for that may indicate someone is being forced to work against their will.
The individual(s) in question:
- Is not free to leave or come and go at will
- Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
- Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
- Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
- Is not given proper safety equipment
- Is not paid directly
- Is forced to meet daily quotas
- Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
- Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
- Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
- Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
- High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
- Is living and working on site
- Experiences verbal or physical abuse by their supervisor
Note: According to federal law, any minor under the age of 18 engaging in commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking, regardless of the presence of force, fraud, or coercion.
If you believe you are a victim of human trafficking or may have information about a potential trafficking situation, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911.
GreeningLaw P.C. is here to help
If you or a someone you know has been a victim of human trafficking or slavery, you may have a claim against the person or people responsible. In addition, you may be able to hold any business profiting from the crime accountable as well including hotels or other businesses where the activity occurred.
Criminal cases can be difficult to prosecute, that’s why civil lawsuits are an important avenue for human sex trafficking survivors who want help bringing those who hurt them to justice.
GreeningLaw P.C. can assess your situation and provide legal advice regarding steps to take to protect your safety and get you the legal help you deserve. We will review all the elements of your case, discuss any possible compensation you may receive, and suggest the best course of action.
We fight the legal battle so you have time for healing and renewal. We will get you through this.
- Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit (HTPU). (2019, November 12). Retrieved January 28, 2020, from https://www.justice.gov/crt/human-trafficking-prosecution-unit-htpu
- 10 Ways To Protect Yourself From Human Trafficking. (2018, May 22). Retrieved January 28, 2020, from https://www.youthvillage.co.za/2018/05/10-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-human-trafficking/
- Recognizing the Signs. (2019, May 3). Retrieved January 28, 2020, from https://humantraffickinghotline.org/human-trafficking/recognizing-signs