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Human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings through abduction, use or threat of force and other forms of coercion, deception, or fraud, for purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor. Men, women and children are trafficked into the United States from all over the world, including the Russian Federation and other parts of Eastern Europe, Asian countries such as China or Vietnam, Mexico and Central and South American countries. However, trafficking does not always involve transporting a person across borders. It is common among US citizens as well as foreign nationals.
Who are the Victims? (From the National Human Trafficking Resource Center website)
Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 victims annually are trafficked across international borders worldwide, and between 14,500 and 17,500 of those are brought into the United States, according to the U.S. State Department.
The victims are forcibly kidnapped, sold by their families, or fraudulently recruited by someone promising them a legitimate job. These men, women and children are forced into domestic servitude, prostitution, or some other type of labor. Traffickers use force, fraud and threats to get victims to engage in forced labor (involuntary servitude, debt bondage or slavery) or commercial sex (prostitution, stripping, pornography).
The Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition reports that "the perpetrators of these crimes instill fear in their victims in order to keep the victims from leaving or reporting the crimes they endure. Tactics for enslavement include debt bondage, isolation from the public, isolation from family and ethnic or religious community, withholding legal documents, use or threat of violence against the person or the person's family, threat of imprisonment or deportation, denial of medical care, rape, control of the person's money, and manipulation and psychological abuse." (Human Trafficking: The Invisible Slave Trade, April 2007)
Victims are physically and psychologically isolated and unable to find assistance when they need it the most. Some victims don't speak or understand English; many don't even know what city they are in. They are taught to be afraid of the police, and even when given the opportunity (like being arrested for prostitution), they remain silent instead of asking for help.
The best way to combat human traffickers is through education of the public and law enforcement officials. Human trafficking has been a dirty little secret among the traffickers for some time. Many people do not believe that crimes like this occur in the United States, including law enforcement personnel and prosecutors. This situation is changing, and it will be progressively more difficult for the traffickers to conduct their business as more people become aware of the problem and how to report it.
Certain TABC license and permit holders are required by law to post a sign advertising the National Human Trafficking Hotline Number in English and Spanish. However, anyone can post a copy of the sign to help spread the word. The sign requirement falls on the following permit holders only if they DO NOT hold a food and beverage certificate: wine and beer retailers (on and off premises), beer retailers (on and off premises), private clubs, mixed beverage permit holders, excursion boats and railroad dining cars. TABC provides these signs to license and permit holders who are required to post them. Signs can also be downloaded here:
Toll-free | 24-hours, 7 days a week | Confidential | Interpretation Available
National Human Trafficking Resource Center
Call specialists will help to connect victims to local services and resources.
Most victims do not self-identify as victims or are not aware that help is available. By taking action and calling, you may be the only one that can provide crucial information about a trafficking case.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center is operated by Polaris Project, a non-governmental organization. They are not a government entity, law enforcement or immigration.