January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and this past week, State Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) joined CHILDREN AT RISK to highlight one of the key pieces of legislation she passed this past legislative session – House Bill 2511.
“Texas has been at the forefront of human trafficking legislation and was one of the first states to criminalize human trafficking in 2003,” said Rep. Thompson. “Since then, I have continued to work and pass laws that strengthen human trafficking punishments, provide protections for victims, and require training for involved agencies.”
Human Trafficking is commonly explained as the exploitation of persons for labor or services for the purpose of involuntary servitude, slavery, or forced commercial sex acts.
What is both surprising and alarming is that people just do not know the facts as to what, where, and to whom this is happening. Many people think it is just something that happens somewhere else, and have no idea of the magnitude or pervasive of this problem. Human trafficking victims can be men or women, minors or adults, and foreign nationals or U.S. citizens.
One of the most vulnerable populations for human trafficking are children who run away from their homes, and domestic minors who are often called “runaways” or “throwaways.”
The International Labor Organization estimates that over 14 million individuals worldwide are victims of labor trafficking. In December of 2014, the United States Department of Labor identified 136 goods produced globally through child labor and forced labor.
Slave labor taints the supply chains of goods produced and consumed in Texas. Businesses should be proactive in ensuring that labor trafficking, either domestically or abroad, never touches the supply chain of their products.
House Bill 2511 promotes the voluntary efforts among the business community by creating a Human Trafficking Business Partnership program through the Office of the Secretary of State. Participating businesses may receive a certificate of recognition for participating in the partnership and engaging in practices and policies to combat human trafficking.
“I firmly believe that the business community can play an important and key role in the fight against human trafficking,” said Rep. Thompson. “I encourage everyone to join the fight against human trafficking. Together we will make a difference and hopefully, one day soon, see an end to modern day slavery.”
Additionally, businesses can play a role in addressing sex trafficking as well. Entities that may unintentionally serve as venues and profit from the activities of sex traffickers can take steps to promote awareness and trainings and reduce incidents of this criminal activity on their premises.
For more information on the issue of Human Trafficking, please consider these resources:
- National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline: 1-(888) 373-7888
SMS: 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”)
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Languages: English, Spanish and 200 more languages
- United States State Department – Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons