The human trafficking hotline has received more reports of human trafficking than ever before.
In its first year, the hotline received just over 3,000 reports of human trafficking in the U.S. The hotline became inundated with calls as years passed, reaching 10,949 reports in 2018.
It’s heartbreaking to know so many calls are flooding in with reports of human trafficking. The lives of those exploited are ravaged by this human rights violation. Our clients report going without food and living in homes without walls, forced into harsh labor environments and sexual compliance. Human trafficking unfolds in our hometown and those enduring this horrific reality demand our empathy and action.
As reports of unthinkable abuse climb, many people fearfully conclude that traffickers are winning – that human trafficking is the worst it has ever been. Truthfully, they might be right. We instinctively feel overwhelmed and powerless. But these numbers have an upside: you are exposing this hidden crime.
The first conclusion:
Human trafficking is the worst it’s ever been
It’s true – there have been more reports to the hotline than ever before, with Texas reporting the second most cases each year.
Just like you, we see articles on human trafficking flood websites – some stories are so close to home. We see girls who picked up cameras and shared their near kidnapping experiences on social media, warning against traffickers.
It’s tempting to assume that more reports mean that trafficking is happening more than ever. It’s easy to slip into fear, constantly looking over your shoulder.
But we believe that these reports indicate an increase in community awareness and action. And now, we have the resources and networks to support the survivors that we do find.
The second conclusion:
Human trafficking is being fought harder than ever before
The United States made human trafficking illegal 20 short years ago. In fact, the human trafficking hotline launched only eight years ago. Now trafficking cases cover the news cycle where it went undiscussed before.
Since then, we made tremendous progress in our community response; we have built organizations, advocated for laws, and increased services for victims.
For our part, we, here at UAHT, teach the Houston community how to recognize and report human trafficking. In 2019 alone, we trained over 11,000 community members in the Greater Houston Area.
We lead the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition, joining over 60 organizations to work as a team. We combine our strength to fight human trafficking.
We are encouraged because each call to the National hotline represents one person who knew what to look for and how to respond. They know to look out for 24-hour spas, to recognize minors dressed like adults, and to watch for employees who live where they work. They know how to report their suspicions to the police and to the human trafficking hotline.
Human trafficking in the news and on social media means that trafficking no longer hides in our society like before. Together, we are dragging what was once a dark, secret, underground crime into the forefront of our community’s concern.
Texas reports thousands of cases, news outlets write countless articles, and survivors speak out because our community has taken a collective stand: we will not tolerate human trafficking. Our concerns, expressed together, have captured the attention of media.
more establishments exist to react to the problem. you are not powerless
We strongly believe that education is doing the work. Human trafficking was unseen, hidden in our community. Now, you and your fellow Houstonians know how to spot human trafficking every day and you know how to report it. You know how to distinguish what is worth your fear – and what isn’t.
Your actions are the reason we find young boys and girls, and adult men and women who have been exploited. You’re the reason we can make sure that survivors receive both the physical and emotional care they need.
We have made immeasurable progress together, but there is immeasurable more work for us to do. Let’s make sure that traffickers don’t win by deceiving us into believing we are powerless.
Keep caring, keep learning, keep reporting.
It’s human trafficking awareness month and we need you to keep human trafficking at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Will you share this blog post on your favorite Social Media? Simple, quick actions like sharing a post or talking with a friend create a ripple effect of change. What action will you take today?