If you’ve been keeping up with us this month, you’ve noticed the #31AudaciousDays to prevent human trafficking. January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and we decided to put together some quick actionable policy steps for you and the community to participate in to support ending Human Trafficking.
Click here to download our policy one pager, and continue reading for more in depth ways you can engage in policy change that intersects with and impacts anti-human trafficking work.
Did you know that in 2016, in Texas alone, approximately 234,000 adult victims were labor trafficked? Labor Trafficking is defined as: situations of debt bondage, forced labor, and involuntary child labor. Labor traffickers use violence, threats, lies, and other forms of coercion to force people to work against their will in many industries.
Common types of labor trafficking include people forced to work in homes as domestic servants, farmworkers coerced through violence as they harvest crops, flower sellers on the side of the road or in bars, construction workers, nail shops, massage parlors, or factory workers held in inhumane conditions with little to no pay.
It is much easier to identify sex trafficking than it is labor trafficking, however both are important harms that impact people in the city of Houston. One of the main ways we can end human trafficking is by staying aware of intersectional bills making their way through the legislature, pressuring our representatives and elected officials, organizing, and voting against harmful and restrictive bills.
What types of bills are harmful, you may ask? For example, bills that restrict access to: food, housing, deny minimum wage increase, allow employment discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people, deny access to knowledge of and services for sexual and reproductive health, dating and family violence, and laws which criminalize Black, Indigenous, and migrant people of color instead of empowering them. Simply experiencing one of these intersecting problems alone means an increase in vulnerability to being trafficked vs. those who do not experience these systemic barriers.
Here is a quick guide on how a bill is passed, you can view it larger here and read further here.
Below are just a few bills to keep track of that have made their way through the 87th legislative session and special session, that have been introduced, passed, or failed and need pressure to amend, veto, overturn, or re-introduce them. We also include a short impact blurb or why they are important or intersect with human trafficking.
Bill #1: SB9, by State Sen. Royce West, State Sen. Joan Huffman
Relating to public school instruction and materials regarding the prevention of child abuse, family violence, dating violence, and sex trafficking and the adoption of public school policies to prevent dating violence.
Impact: The way this bill is written, makes it really difficult for anti-trafficking organizations to provide education and resources to students in public schools on what human trafficking, family & dating violence, and child abuse are. Anti-human trafficking organizations now have more obstacles to pass, censoring of curriculum to do—leaving out vital information, to win the approval of a board of trustees. Making amendments to this bill is strongly recommended.
Bill #2: SB 1109, by State Sen. Royce West, State Rep Rafael M. Anchía
Relating to requiring public schools to provide instruction and materials and adopt policies relating to the prevention of child abuse, family violence, and dating violence.
Impact: This bill was vetoed and would have been a step towards providing children with healthy relationship training to recognize grooming, coercion, and abuse early on in their lives and help them advocate for others. Overturning this bill is strongly recommended.
Bill #3: SB869, by State Sen. Cesar J. Blanco
Relating to eligibility for the supplemental nutrition assistance program and the provision of employment and training services under the program.
Companion Bill: HB2126 by State Rep. Armando Lucio Walle
The Health and Human Services Commission shall contract with one or more third-party service providers to provide supplemental nutrition assistance program employment and training
Impact: These bills expand the varieties in types of services that participants of supplemental nutrition assistance benefits have access to, which is essential to living a quality life for those who are food and financially insecure. Advocating for the passing of this bill would support health, well-being, economic empowerment and the prevention of participants seeking out economic means that are unsafe or risk filled.
Bill #4: SB 399, by State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr.
Relating to the criteria for review by the Sunset Advisory Commission of a state agency.
Impact: This bill failed and would have assessed state agencies’ efforts to reduce racial disparities via the Sunset Advisory Commission if passed2. Addressing how racism plays a part in systemic barriers and further creates vulnerabilities and inequalities, is one way to prevent the trafficking of Black and Indigenous people. Re-introducing this bill is strongly recommended.
Track bills and contact your representatives by visiting this website: Open States
Decide if you are pressuring for amendments, vetoing, over-turning, or re-introducing a bill.
Visit your reps website and email them this script, or call them:
Dear (Rep. Name)
I am reaching out to you to bring your attention to (name of bill) by (name of rep who sponsored or authored bill) and the need to (amend, veto, over-turn, or re-introduce) it. (Name of bill) impacts people in our community by putting people and children at a higher risk of being trafficked. (copy paste impact paragraph). Your support on this bill will change lives for the better and align with your values of serving those who are often forgotten and excluded from living safe and healthy lives. Help us in getting one step closer to ending human trafficking by (amending, vetoing, over-turning, or re-introducing) (name of bill) in the next legislative session.
(Add your name)
Register to vote if you haven’t already done so here. You can also make updates to your voter information.
Partner with an anti-human trafficking organization of your choice and see how you can support their policy efforts. Here are some organizations we partner with in Houston!
Children At Risk
Project Protect Our Children
United Against Human Trafficking
Encourage a friend or two, to do all of the above.
Share on your social media accounts to get others involved and tag away!
Organize if you feel comfortable. We know everyone has different levels of comfort when confronting complex problems like human trafficking AND we also want to encourage you to reach out to a local organization and offer any organizing ideas and time you may have to impact policy change and end human trafficking. We can’t do this without community support and people like you.
Human Trafficking by the Numbers: The Initial Benchmark of Prevalence and Economic Impact for Texas, https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/44597
How did Children Fare in the 87th Texas Legislative Session?, https://childrenatrisk.org/87th/