Is Houston #1 in the Nation for Human Trafficking?
Houston repeatedly makes headlines for being known top human trafficking cities in the nation however what people do not often know is that we also make top lists for creating positive solutions to end sex trafficking.
You may have heard that Houston is #1 in the nation for sex trafficking. However, this statistic may or may not be true. There are many ways to measure the impact of an underground crime network in a city. You could count arrests, victim outcry, hotline calls, and online advertisements; just to name a few. Research and data are important, but I am no longer interested in where Houston ranks in this regard.
You may have heard on headlines that Houston is one of the main hubs for Human Trafficking. There are a lot of factors that give Houston its reputation for high volumes of human trafficking. But what you may not have heard is that Houston is one of the nation’s leaders in innovating solutions for ending human trafficking. After my 7 years of working with Elijah Rising, (an anti-human trafficking organization) I want to share three reasons why Houston is #1 in the nation for innovating solutions to end trafficking.
1. Houston is Strong
There is truly no place like Houston. Hurricane Harvey devastated entire regions of the city. The world was shocked as they witnessed armies of volunteers, boats, and builders emerge to lend a hand. Social Media became a 24/7 hotline of people offering rescue and aid to neighbors across the city. For months you felt a connected-grief, coupled with pride in this unbreakable city. Photos of families celebrating in flood-damaged homes while watching the world series began to circulate online.
Harvey was not the first time I encountered this side of Houston. I have worked with Elijah Rising fighting sex trafficking since 2013, and I have witnessed the unmeasurable generosity of this city. In 2015, our organization was blessed with 84 acres of land with homes that would serve as housing for those who have survived human trafficking. Unfortunately, the property and the homes needed extensive work done before they could be inhabited. Today, those homes are almost fully renovated and furnished. The property now has a new water well, septic systems, and even herb gardens. The majority of the work was done by men and women just like you, who lent a hand where they could or donated to pay for the work where it was needed.
2. Houston is Innovative
The city of Houston is extremely innovative and a leader in many fields such as the medical industry, energy, and ideas for social impact. Many of us in the nonprofit sector are seeing joint efforts in innovation for combating crime and human trafficking. Love People Not Pixels is a groundbreaking organization fighting demand by intervening with sex buyers. Oil and gas companies have banned together with OGTAG to ensure that their companies are leading the way in changing mindsets about Human Trafficking. Micah Gamboa, the Executive Director of Elijah Rising, created the Museum of Modern-day Slavery which highlights the history and reach of sex trafficking. I could go on, but trust me when I say that this city is not waiting for someone else to come and fix the issue. Which leads me to my final and most striking point.
3. Houston is Collaborative
One of the first things people notice about anti-trafficking efforts in Houston is how the work is being done by more than just law enforcement and nonprofits. In Houston, businesses, schools, community leaders, faith-based groups, even people in the printer industry are finding their place in the movement. And yes, I mean it when I say, printer salesmen! I can name three (Buy on Purpose, Neuralog, and DocumentWORKS). People from all walks of life and influence are linking arms to make sure that no person slips through the cracks. Nonprofits in Houston realize that not only can we work together, but there is enough funding to go around.
Collaborative networks like Houston 20 are using their voices in the nonprofit space to strategically fund new initiatives. Houston Rescue And Restore Coalition (HRRC) is an amazing collaborative of community members and nonprofits finding ways to cooperate and raise standards for best practices in anti-trafficking efforts throughout the city. Freedom Church Alliance is a collaborative of Christian churches focused on increasing volunteerism and awareness in Houston’s faith community. There so many more ways that people are taking a stand in this great city.
Human trafficking is a serious and complex issue, but it is not impossible to put an end to this injustice. Josephine Butler once said, “Immense as is the task before us, nothing shall ever shatter our faith. The justice of our cause is our surety of success” (The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness, 1913).
I hope these words leave you encouraged and empowered to find your place in this great city to fight human trafficking.
How Can You help?
All of the organization names mentioned in this article are linked to their websites!
Read information from trusted sources and those who have survived human trafficking to learn more about the issue.
Volunteer with any of the organizations that are active in the city of Houston. There’s a place for you!
Give to initiatives that fight sex trafficking.
Posted byon 30 Jan 2020