FAUSA focus on Human Trafficking in the USA (pdf)
Submitted by Louise Greeley-Copley, FAUSA Counselor
Human Trafficking is the buying and selling of people. It does not necessarily imply movement or transportation. It is Slavery.
Human trafficking is the second largest illegal business in the world with estimates of 30 billion dollars plus per year worldwide.
“Traffickers are preying on the vulnerable and enslaving them right here within our own communities,” says Carlos J. Barron, the FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge of Houston, TX. Victims are from all socioeconomic statuses, races, and ethnic backgrounds. They are from urban, suburban and rural areas. How they become victims happens in many ways, some are kidnapped, but many are groomed, recruited, or forced by someone they know: friends, family, peers, a boyfriend, persons of authority or a person the victim trusted.
Big states, such as Texas and California are hotspots for domestic human trafficking because cities like Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles are home to many runaway and “throwaway” youth. On average, Texas has about 6,000 runaways annually. According to National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Throwaway Children, an estimated one out of every three children that run away is lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home. Even more frightening is the fact that the average age of entry into sex trafficking is between 12 and 13 years old.
1 out of 3 teens on the street will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.
Other issues that are major factors in the elevation of a runaway's vulnerability of being forced into slavery include:
- Looking for love, affection and attention
- Past sexual/physical/emotional abuse
- Learning disabilities/physical challenges
- Low self-esteem
- Depression and other mental health issues
- Drugs and alcohol use and addiction
- Financial: offers of making “easy” money
- Family and/or friends in gangs, drug or trafficking activities.
- Lack of education, awareness of their bodies, and relationships.
- Constant bombardment with media messages that promote unrealistic and unhealthy lifestyle, material, and relationship choices.
Once victims are exploited they are often unable or afraid to escape due to beatings, threats against family, fear of being killed, embarrassment and feelings of shame (often feel they are to blame for their situation), drugs, no where else to go due to family situation or homelessness, or Stockholm syndrome.
In the year 2013-2014, FAUSA created a Development Grant and generously donated $2,000 to the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition HRRC to help fund the Girls Prevention Program in Houston. United Against Human Trafficking UAHT (formerly The Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition (HRRC) exists to prevent and confront modern-day slavery by educating the public, training professionals and empowering the community to take action for the purpose of identifying, rescuing and restoring trafficking victims to freedom.
The Girls Prevention Program specifically targets middle and high school girls who demonstrate at risk behavior. The idea is to educate them on the seriousness of sexual exploitation that can lead to victimization. The 10-session curriculum is aimed at keeping the most vulnerable adolescent girls from sexual exploitation and prostitution. UAHT has also found it important to add the component of labor trafficking to the curriculum and discuss issue and vulnerability that may lead youth to labor exploitation as well. The curriculum embraces a focus on empowerment and blends a variety of activities, which foster self-reflection, understanding about the issue, and knowledge to help young women identify potentially exploitive situations. HRRC also provides an abridged version of the prevention program for those organizations that cannot accommodate all 10 sessions
Sixty-five girls participated in two program sessions in the first half of 2014 and three more were planned for later in the year. The program costs approximately $25 per person. The programs have been administered to CPS (Child Protection Services) and to Juvenile Detention Center. The project focuses specifically on at-risk (runaway and “throwaway”) youth residing in juvenile probation programs or detention centers.
Girls Prevention Program has adopted the My Life My Choice: Preventing Commercial Sexual Exploitation Among Adolescent Girls, a national curriculum for sexual exploitation preventive education. The program targets middle and high school girls who demonstrate at risk behavior and educates them on the seriousness of sexual exploitation that can lead to victimization.
This 10-session curriculum created by the Justice Resource Institute to halt exploitation and trafficking in the United States works to:
- Build awareness of recruitment tactics by pimps/predators
- Provide information on sexual health
- Understand the link between substance use and exploitation—how it can pull you in and how it can keep you there
- Raising awareness of resources and a pathway out of the Life
- Improve self-esteem.
- UAHTHRRC adds labor trafficking to bring awareness to labor exploitation.
United Against Human Trafficking UAHT believes that an aware and educated public is the first step to eliminating human trafficking. They encourage the public to share what you have learned with family and friends. Become a mentor in your community to work with pre-teens to help educate, empower and support girls as they transition from child to adult.
In addition to the Girls prevention Program and SFSafehouse, FAUSA has been a generous supporter of “Free the Girls” collecting bras, delivering to distribution points, and donations of money to the FAWCO Target Program on Human Rights for Women. The founders of Free the Girls were the keynote speakers at the recent FAUSA annual Getaway in Colorado Springs.
If you see what could be human trafficking do not endanger yourself or the victim. Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline: 1-888-3737-888
Human Trafficking is everywhere you go: nail parlors, massage services, bars, restaurants, domestic workers, construction, factories, truck stops, and on the Internet the modern marketing tool of choice.
There are many organizations across the country that needs volunteers and funding:
United against Human Trafficking (Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition): www.houstonrr.org
Free the Girls: www.freethegirls.org
San Francisco SafeHouse: www.Sfsafehouse.org
Polaris Project: http://www.polarisproject.org
Not for Sale: http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/about/
Walk Free: http://www.walkfree.org
For more information on the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas:
Books and videos:
“Half the Sky” by Sheryl Wu Dunn and Nickolas Kristoff
“A Path Appears” by Sheryl Wu Dunn and Nickolas Kristoff
“Walking Prey: How America’s Youth are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery.” By Holly Smith