Latest lesson in human trafficking features more than just sex slaves; How about cases of organ harvesting

Sgt. Ana Andino

What do you know about human trafficking?

Unlike what most people think, human trafficking does not only happen in Third World countries and it is not just a matter of sex trafficking. Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by the threat or force.

This also includes other forms, such as coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power, or of a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments.

Traffickers benefit by having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. Human trafficking is commonly known as modern-day slavery and has an extensive category of abuse and corruption.

Human trafficking in Texas has more than 300,000 victims and almost 79,000 of those victims are minors.

Human trafficking can be in the shape and form of any of the following:

 

Sexual Exploitation

 

This usually involves any non-consensual or abusive sexual performances done without a victim’s permission. The victims can be women or men, girls or boys; however, the majority are women and girls.  Typically, offenders purchase a beautiful young girl for $1,000 in a Third World country and bring her to the United States, prostitute her and make the money back in two days.

There are common forms for enticing victims into sex trafficking, including a promise of a good job in another country, a false marriage proposal turned into a bondage situation or being kidnapped by traffickers. Traffickers often use different means to subdue their victims. These methods may include: physical abuse, rape, gang rape, starvation, beatings, forced drug use, threats of violence to the victims and the victim’s families, and/ or confinement.

 

Domestic Servitude

 

In a domestic servitude situation, the victim is forced to work in private households. Victims are not allowing to get out of the house and are forced to do perform domestic tasks such as housekeeping and childcare for long hours for little or no pay. Undocumented individuals – mainly females – are susceptible to this form of human trafficking.

Women and girls in domestic servitude are often sexually abused or exploited as well. Victims will live very secluded lives and have little or no unsupervised privileges. They frequently sleep on a mattress on a corner around the house.

 

Child Exploitation

 

Young people aged 10 to 14 usually brought here from different countries get caught up in abusive aspects of labor exploitation. These young people are usually vulnerable and typically they come from poor families frequently put into bonded labor. They also might be children who come out of orphanages. They also might be street people, migrant workers or indigenous peoples. Many of these labor-trafficking victims are forced to work as farmers (working with eggs, animals, agricultural laborers, factory workers, drug sellers and cultivators.

 

Organ harvesting

 

Organ harvesting involves trafficking people in order to use their internal organs for transplant. The illegal trade is dominated by the demand for kidneys on the black market. These are the only major organs that can be wholly transplanted with relatively few risks to the life of the donor.

Texas doesn’t see too many cases of organ harvesting. But victims do come and go through our state before reaching their final destination.

While Texas doesn’t have a uniform policy for collecting data on sex trafficking, according to Human Trafficking Hotline, we do have some statistics.

Texas has the second highest number of reported cases. In 2016, there were 2,135 human trafficking phone call reports, 472 for sex trafficking and 117 for labor trafficking.

In 2017 there were 1,142 human trafficking phone call reports, 306 for sex trafficking and 82 for labor trafficking.

Specifically, the City of Houston is classified as the main headquarters for human trafficking in this part of the country due to its proximity to the Mexico border, its diverse population and labor force, its international airports and the embarkation ports.

Given these circumstances, we in HPD will likely have plenty of problems ahead dealing with human trafficking.

 

Sgt. Andino is a PhD candidate in Administration of Justice at Texas Southern University.