Pandemic Fallout Is Fueling An Increase In Human Trafficking, Hindering Efforts To Combat It
There are an estimated 234,000 victims of labor trafficking and 79,000 victims of youth and minor sex trafficking in Texas at any given time, and experts are worried that those rates are on the rise due to conditions worsened by the pandemic.
In May, the state released a strategic plan to rescue human-trafficking victims and charter an end to trafficking in Texas, which includes outlines to prosecuting traffickers and support their survivors.
The South Texas Officers and Prosecutors (STOP) Human Trafficking Task Force — a coalition of prosecutors, victims services organizations and law enforcement agencies in San Antonio — recently received $1.5 million in federal funding to enhance their work "fighting the evils of human trafficking." How will this collaborative measure the success of its efforts?
How do we legally define “trafficking” and what are the different kinds? How prevalent is exploitation and where is it happening?
How does someone become a victim of trafficking? What are the risk factors? What is the individual and community impact of this kind of modern day slavery?
What are some common signs of exploitation and what can you do if you suspect it is occurring?
Do we know yet what impact the pandemic has had on trafficking trends, or efforts to combat it? What are the biggest challenges?
What happens when someone is arrested for exploiting others? What does justice look?
- Chara McMichael, executive director of the BCFS Health and Human Services Human Trafficking Interdiction Division
- Kirsta Leeburg Melton, lawyer and founder/CEO of the Texas-based Institute to Combat Trafficking
- Lt. Bill Grayson, director of the San Antonio Police Department's Special Victims Unit
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*This interview was recorded on Thursday, January 21.