One Statistic That Will Make You Drop Your Jaw

One Statistic That Will Make You Drop Your Jaw

Robin met her boyfriend on a dating app and was thrilled to be with someone who genuinely accepted her. 

They had a great time together until Robin was evicted from her apartment. 

Ready with a solution, the boyfriend suggested Robin move in with him for free. Then everything changed. 

After a couple weeks, the boyfriend demanded Robin “pay off the debt she owed him” by having sex with his friends.

At first, Robin refused, but was frightened when her boyfriend asserted he was secretly a police officer and could throw her in prison if she didn’t comply. 

As a trans woman, Robin was terrified of being thrown into prison – so she did what he said. 

Finally, Robin couldn’t take it anymore; she knew she needed to get away.  

To escape her trafficker, Robin needed to secure a safe place to live. 

So she called us. But we can’t always find a shelter. 

There are around 313,000 trafficking survivors in Texas, but only 529 beds designated for survivors in the entire United States

 Houston lacks short-term housing for trafficking survivors while they wait for long-term placement.

There are only 529 beds exclusively for trafficking survivors in the entire United States, but an estimated 313,000 trafficking victims in Texas alone. 

Even survivors who are connected to support groups and legal services may not have a safe place to sleep. Left with no other option, they resort to laying on the concrete, resting on a park bench, camping under a bridge, or sleeping in a temporary shelter. 

You may be thinking, “what about shelters that aren’t only for trafficking survivors?” 

While some trafficking survivors find a place to sleep overnight at homeless shelters, most shelters lack the resources trafficking survivors need to stay safe.

Many shelters only offer a place to stay over-night, leaving survivors with nowhere to go during the day. Reports to the National Human Trafficking Hotline show that traffickers even recruit victims in homeless shelters. 

Thankfully, our team connected Robin to a shelter where she could escape her trafficker!

But as we move forward in our fight against human trafficking, it’s critical that we fill this gap in services.

We must face this reality: we need more inclusive beds and safe homes established specifically for trafficking survivors.  

 

How to Change the World with Fair Trade Subscription Boxes

How to Change the World with Fair Trade Subscription Boxes

As October comes to an end, spooky season gives way to the holidays. I don’t know about you, but my family is already asking for my holiday wish list!

What better way to show someone you care with a thoughtful and unique gift?

Buying fair trade certified items not only make your loved ones feel special, but also support ethical brands and their families.

Shopping in the age of a pandemic is difficult enough for consumers. Small businesses and their workers are suffering due to corporate consolidation and supply chain disruption. Many have curated unique subscription boxes as a safe alternative way to accessing ethically made and fair trade certified goods. 

GreenUp Subscription box

Green up

GreenUP Box is a great way to introduce your family to zero waste and plastic free products into their everyday life. This brand is perfect for the environmentally conscious!

CauseBox

CAUSEBOX

To promote artisans and socially-conscious emerging brands, CAUSEBOX is an easy way to personalize each delivery especially for the recipient. They offer a little of everything, so you can’t go wrong with these diverse ethical products.

Equal Exchange Solidarity Box

Equal Exchange Solidarity box

Finally, Equal Exchange has formed the Solidarity Box. Long term partnerships with farmers gives more opportunities to their families and business. They have curated their best-selling products to allow consumers to help take a stand and promote fair trade.

Purchasing fair trade certified products helps support farmers and small businesses and gives back to their communities. I challenge you to find a fair trade item for yourself or to gift someone this holiday season! Happy shopping!

We have to know the signs of labor trafficking and exploitation, and we need to be engaged as consumers if we truly want to create a world where all are free. Here’s how you can keep learning:

Learn more now, during fair trade month!

In celebration of Fair Trade Month, UAHT is hosting events to encourage viewers to ask questions and learn more about fair trade.

We will be airing a viewing of the documentary “The Dark Side of Chocolate” on Thursday, October 29th from 6-7:30 PM CST.

This documentary and discussion will feature a guest speaker to answer questions about what fair trade is and how consumers can get more involved in the movement.

We will also be releasing new episodes of Making Justice, including an episode with Equal Exchange.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook to learn more information and hear about the impact that fair trade has on others!

How To Change The World With Fair Trade Skin Care

How To Change The World With Fair Trade Skin Care

Do you know what ingredients are in your skin care routine? How about where those ingredients came from?

We often don’t look deeper into the products we consume to face the world everyday.

In celebrating Fair Trade Month at UAHT, we have been discussing chocolate & coffee, and how exploitation can exist in the supply chain of these popular goods. Now it’s time to take a look at our bathroom cabinets and counters.

As basic economic principles tell us: where demand exists, supply will rise to meet it. The global beauty industry is worth $532 billion dollars and is expected to reach $800 billion in just 5 years (Forbes).

Billions of people demand accessible, affordable beauty products at a moment’s notice.

To keep up with massive demand, suppliers seek out the best deal they can on ingredients like argan, coconut, and vanilla extract.

But these ingredients are often harvested by child and forced labor in dangerous conditions (FAIRTRADE Foundation, ELUXE Magazine).

The average coconut grower makes only $1 per day

Let’s look closer at one of these ingredients – coconut.

Cocokind outlines the case for fair trade coconut:

“Over the past several years, the exponential increase in demand for coconut/coconut-derivatives has not equated better wages for coconut farmers. In the Philippines, the second largest coconut producing country, coconut exports grew from 1,600 metric tons in 2008 to over 22,000 tons in 2014.

However, according to the Fair Trade USA, the average coconut grower is still making only $1 per day. Let’s put this into perspective (as if this is necessary): it would take two full days of work for a coconut grower to purchase a single unit of coconut water in the U.S. 60% of coconut farmers in the country live in poverty, and thus ironically, the largest stakeholders in the Philippine economy are the poorest.”

Pura Vida Coffee

Fair Trade Can Change The World

Fair trade combats human trafficking by prohibiting child or forced labor in addition to creating equitable, safer, and healthier environments for workers. If we have the means, buying fair trade products can support entire communities on a scale we may not have thought possible without charity.

 Here are a few resources to find fair trade beauty products:

Fair Trade Certified Health, Beauty, and Body Care

FAIRTRADE Beauty Products guide

Cosmetify Fair Trade Makeup & Beauty Glossary

Learn more now, during fair trade month!

In celebration of Fair Trade Month, UAHT is hosting events to encourage viewers to ask questions and learn more about fair trade.

We will be airing a viewing of the documentary “The Dark Side of Chocolate” on Thursday, October 29th from 6-7:30 PM CST.

This documentary and discussion will feature a guest speaker to answer questions about what fair trade is and how consumers can get more involved in the movement.

We will also be releasing new episodes of Making Justice, including an episode with Equal Exchange.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook to learn more information and hear about the impact that fair trade has on others!

We have to know the signs of labor trafficking and exploitation, and we need to be engaged as consumers if we truly want to create a world where all are free. Here’s how you can keep learning:

2 Simple Questions To Identify Labor Trafficking

2 Simple Questions To Identify Labor Trafficking

Luca and Peter – Who Was Trafficked?

Two men, Luca and Peter, live in two different drug rehabilitation centers. As part of their programs, both men are expected to work. 

The first man, Luca, works building doors. Before he started, his manager promised that he would be paid every Friday for his work.

On his first night, management locked the gates to the facility from the outside. Friday came and went, but Luca never received his paycheck. Weeks passed, and the gates locked every night and no paycheck ever came. 

The second man, Peter, is expected to panhandle for spare change. When he returns to the rehabilitation center, he must give the money he makes to his manager. He was never promised that he could keep it.

A few weeks pass and Peter decides to leave the program entirely and search for a different job. 

Both of these men were being exploited for their labor, but only one was being trafficked. 

Do you know which one? 

We Need To Talk About Labor Trafficking

Labor trafficking occurs at a higher rate than sex trafficking globally but is reported at a lower rate to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. It is imperative to address both sex and labor trafficking so that all can live free. 

In this five-part blog series, we’re equipping you to recognize and report labor trafficking. 

Right now, you’re reading part two, which will help you understand the distinction between labor exploitation and labor trafficking: 

 

Labor trafficking is a type  of labor exploitation.

 Labor exploitation is exactly what it sounds like: exploiting another human being to profit unfairly off their work. All cases of labor trafficking are an extreme form of labor exploitation. However, some cases of labor exploitation are not human trafficking. 

Labor trafficking is unique because it involves the element of choice: people being trafficked feel that they cannot choose to leave the situation they are in. Let’s look at the A-M-P Model, which defines human trafficking. 

The A-M-P Model For Identifying Human Trafficking

Trafficking occurs when an action is taken, by the means of force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of profiting off someone else’s labor or service. 

Exploitation describes unfairly profiting off someone else’s labor; there is no “means” in this definition. Force, fraud, or coercion are unnecessary for exploitation to occurAt least one of these means must be present along with exploitation for someone to legally be considered trafficked. 

In a trafficking situation, force, fraud, and coercion make the victim feel like they cannot leave and get another job. 

If we know a person is being exploited for labor, we need to ask 2 questions to determine if it is human trafficking:
  1. How did the victim come to have this job? (Were they recruited, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, patronized, or solicited into the job?) 
  2. Was the victim forced, defrauded, or coerced into taking or staying in the job? 

If you answer “yes” to both those questions, it’s human trafficking. 

Let’s go back to Luca and Peter’s stories and ask these critical questions.

Peter

1. How did Peter come to have this job? (Was he recruited, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, patronized, or solicited into the job?)

Peter was harbored because he lived at the rehabilitation center, which employed him. Yes.

2. Was Peter forced, defrauded, or coerced into taking or staying in the job?

  • Peter was not locked in at the rehabilitation center and he wasn’t physically abused if he didn’t work, so he wasn’t forced. No. 
  • Peter was never promised wages, so he was not defrauded. No. 
  • Peter was never threatened or psychologically manipulated, so he was not coerced. No. 

Although it’s clear Peter was harbored for labor exploitation, we don’t see an element of “means” -force, fraud, or coercion – here. Peter was not trafficked. 

Luca

1. How did Luca come to have this job? (Was he recruited, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, patronized, or solicited into the job?)

Luca – like Peter – was harbored because he lived at the rehabilitation center, which employed him. Yes.

2. Was Luca forced, defrauded, or coerced into taking or staying in the job?

  • Luca was locked in at the rehabilitation center, so he was forced. Yes. 
  • Luca was promised wages that he never recieved, so he was defrauded. Yes.
  • Luca wasn’t threatened or psychologically manipulated, so he was not coerced. No. 

Luca was harbored through force and fraud for the purpose of labor exploitation. Using the A-M-P Model, we can see that Luca was trafficked. 

Labor exploitation and labor trafficking go hand in hand.

To identify labor trafficking, it is important that you recognize the signs of labor exploitation so that you can report unfair and illegal labor practices.  As people who support a society of freedom for all, we have an obligation to see and understand the exploitation of others around us. That’s why we at UAHT are writing this series for you! 

We Serve Labor Trafficking Survivors Through our Case Management Program

Although labor trafficking rarely makes the news, you can be assured that our team is walking labor trafficking survivors – like Luca – through every step of their journey toward freedom.

From finding somewhere safe to sleep and nutritious food to eat to job training and interviews, our Case Manager ensures every client, of any gender, who experienced any trafficking type, is equipped with the tools they need to live free.

To start at the beginning of this series, check out our first post. Meanwhile, watch our blog for the next post on recognizing human trafficking in storefront services.

 

Resources:

The U.S. Department of Labor oversees labor exploitation issues and workers can file claims for violations of  

  • Workplace Health and Safety: OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)  
  • Nearly every employee in the nation comes under OSHA’s jurisdiction with some exceptions such as miners, some transportation workers, many public employees, and the self-employed. For more information about OSHA, visit https://www.osha.gov/.  
  • OSHA also administers the Whistleblower Protection program, ensuring an employer cannot retaliate by taking “adverse action” against workers who report injuries, safety concerns, or other protected activity. For more information about the Whistleblower Protection program, visit https://www.whistleblowers.gov/.  
  • Fair Labor Standards Act – FLSA contains rules concerning the employment of young workers, those under the age of 18, and is administered and enforced by DOL’s Wage and Hour Division. Intended to protect the health and well-being of youth in America, the FLSA contains minimum age restrictions for employment, restrictions on the times of day youth may work, and the jobs they may perform.  
  • Minimum wage, child labor, and Workers Owed Wages: Wage and Hour Division. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is responsible for administering and enforcing some of the nation’s most important worker protection laws. WHD is committed to ensuring that workers in this country are paid properly and for all the hours they work, regardless of immigration status.   
  • WHD Website: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd  
  • How to File a Complaint with WHD: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/contact/complaints  
  • For more information about DOL and worker safety and health, visit https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/safety-health.   

National Human Trafficking Hotline is a toll-free number anyone can call to report or get more information on human trafficking. Call 1-888-373-7888 

3 Critical Facts About Labor Trafficking We Can’t Ignore

3 Critical Facts About Labor Trafficking We Can’t Ignore

 There are an estimated 313,000 victims of trafficking in Texas, and a whopping 75% of them are experiencing labor trafficking. It’s time we talk about them. We need to make sure our conversations and our actions are centered as much on justice for victims and survivors of labor trafficking as they are on victims and survivors of sex trafficking.

1. Labor Trafficking Afflicts Every Corner Of The Globe

Labor trafficking—when someone is physically forced, threatened, or tricked into working–afflicts every corner of the globe, just like sex trafficking. Even with limited data on human trafficking, it’s clear: labor trafficking is more common than sex trafficking. Yet all too frequently, we ignore the signs and impact of labor trafficking, we don’t report the crime, and we never empower victims to leave their dangerous trafficking situations.

When we think of labor trafficking, we think “not us.”

Labor trafficking brings to mind stories of factory fires in Bangladesh, children in Nike factories overseas, young girls in garment sweatshops in some distant, far-off place making 30 cents an hour. And that’s true. Labor trafficking can and does take those forms.

2. But it’s more than that. It’s close to home.

Labor trafficking can be experienced by the nanny for those kids down the street. It happens to workers at that donut shop you always go to on Fridays before work starts. To the day laborers you see waiting for work at Home Depot.

Labor trafficking is here. It’s in Houston, it’s in our communities. And it’s something that we can see – if we know the signs.

We want to help you know what to look out for, so we’re launching a blog series on labor trafficking. We are going to talk with you about three types of businesses where labor trafficking can thrive, and give you, the customer, questions to consider as you support these businesses.

3. Labor Trafficking is a business. Vote with your dollar.

As consumers, our purchasing power is a huge tool at our disposal. Maybe you have heard the phrase “vote with your dollar.” By actively making a choice to spend our money on fair trade and ethically produced goods and services and by refusing to spend it on exploitative business practices, we shape the economy.

As consumers, our purchasing decisions tell people and companies what and who we value.

We as consumers must learn about dangerous working environments, red flags for exploitation, and best practices. Knowing what is fair trade is a good, necessary starting point, and there are several resources out there for you! You can check out Fair Trade USA for information and shopping tips, or some of the webinars that UAHT has released online.

But it can’t end there.

We have to know the signs of labor trafficking and exploitation, and we need to be engaged as consumers if we truly want to create a world where all are free. 

The fight to end human trafficking is a journey. Thank you for joining us on it.

 

 

National Human Trafficking Hotline is a toll-free number anyone can call to report or get more information on human trafficking. Call 1-888-373-7888.

Prostitution & Human Trafficking: What’s the Difference?

Prostitution & Human Trafficking: What’s the Difference?

It can be complicated – however, one thing you know for sure is that she has been exploited.

Kim is 16 years old, poor, in and out of school, no job, and wants to help her family survive.

After her mother lost her job, their family is left in terrible debt. A man her friend told her about says he can get her a job as a live-in housekeeper in another city for a few months.

She gets in the man’s truck and is transported across the Texas border to Mexico where she does not speak the language and is sold into a brothel where she is forced to have sex with 10-15 men every night. Her virginity is sold for $20. She has no money and no way to get back home.

Michelle is 26 years old; also, poor, was once married at 17 and has five children.

After her husband left their family, it was up to Michelle to provide for herself and her children. Without an education or job opportunities, she reluctantly goes into the city and starts to prostitute herself at a bar. She sends the small amount she receives to her mother who is raising her children. It is not the life she would choose for herself, but she does not see another way.

Kim and Michelle are both affected by poverty and social exploitation.

Both have been given few choices and opportunities in life. But one is a willing participant in the sex industry and the other is a victim of human trafficking. They both need help finding their way out, and they both need compassion – but their situations are not the same.

If the sex industry were a continuum;

on one side are adult men and women who are knowing and willing participants in prostitution – whether through direct exploitation, because of poverty or abuse, or by choice, they use prostitution as a means for income. On the other end of the spectrum are human trafficking victims — those forced into the sex industry against their will by some measure of force, fraud, or coercion.

Elements of Sex Trafficking

Act: Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons.

Means: Threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim.

Purpose: Prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, or slavery.

Elements of Prostitution

Act: Sexual act or contact with another person in return for giving or receiving a fee or a thing of value.

Means: To invite, entice, offer, persuade, or agree to engage in prostitution.

The Differences

Human Trafficking

In recent years, human trafficking has become a more common topic.

Accurate estimates on the number of people enslaved today are nearly impossible because of the hidden nature of the crime. Some estimate the global number to be near 50 million, while 24.9 million people are estimated to be in labor and sexual slavery alone.

But whatever the exact numbers are, it is true that at this moment there are people who are physically locked behind closed doors, who are threatened with their family’s safety, and who are paying off debts by servicing men in brothels or working without pay.

Human trafficking forcefully converts a human being to a commodity. One person profits by stripping rights and dignity from another person. There is no element of choice for the trafficked person; he or she is a product in a multi-billion-dollar industry.

Willing Participants in Prostitution

Prostitution is another oftentimes difficult reality for millions globally. Many women, particularly those living in impoverished areas, turn to prostitution because there are very little economic opportunities elsewhere. An uneducated woman can make fast money, she is under pressure to provide for her family, and she lives within widespread cultural acceptance of the sex industry. Prostitution quickly becomes a viable option — sometimes seemingly the only one.

One study of prostituted women in nine countries found that 70-95 percent of the women were physically assaulted, 60-75 percent were raped, and 89 percent of the women told researchers that they urgently wanted to escape prostitution. Even if individuals choose this profession, globally it is a dangerous one full of exploitative and demeaning circumstances.

What is UAHT doing about it?

Our mission is to end human trafficking through preventing exploitation, educating the community, and empowering survivors.

We believe that no human life should be for sale. Children and teenagers, men and women are exploited for sex and labor in our city every day. We exist to change that.

Through awareness, we turn our community’s attention to the atrocity of human trafficking. Our neighbors become empowered to join our strategy to address this human rights violation.

Through education, we prepare professionals, first responders, and community members to recognize and address human trafficking solutions. Institutions become qualified to aid victims and survivors with a trauma-informed approach.

Through programs, support groups, and direct outreach, we bridge the gap between service providers and those who need them. We interact with overlooked people to identify exploitation and connect them with appropriate resources and restoration.

Commercial sexual exploitation needs to be stopped. To effect change, we need to respond to the specific needs of both people in prostitution (even by choice) and people who are victims of human trafficking– and all those in between. With the commitment of our team an our community, we can and will continue to help one survivor at a time.