- Melissa Torres, Ph.D., MSW
- Noël Busch-Armendariz, Ph.D., LMSW, MPA
Despite what we understand to be the abolition of slavery in the United States, trafficking of humans for the purposes of sex work and cheap labor has emerged as a major criminal and social justice issue, both in the United States and abroad (U.S. Department of State, 2014; Busch-Armendariz et al., 2008; Polaris Project, 2009). In 2013, the United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) estimated 27 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. The International Labour Office (2014) projected that human trafficking generates $150 billion of annual illegal profits worldwide. While researchers are working to estimate prevalence in the U.S., accurate rates continue to be elusive because of the hidden nature of this crime.
The Statewide Human Trafficking Mapping Project for Texas will provide empirically-grounded data about the extent of human trafficking in Texas. As such, policy and program recommendations will be built on our understanding the scope of the problem, an assessment of the current and ongoing services and responses, and the unmet needs of both survivors and the professionals that respond to survivors, traffickers, and others involved in this crime. The project is comprised of three major components that will be produced as a part of a two year plan: an Environmental scan, Economic analysis, and a Slavery Footprint.
This initiative began in response to growing awareness of violence, trafficking, and exploitation against adults and children in Texas. Those engaged in activating responses to survivors and developing strategies to better investigate and prosecute these crimes struggle to make progress with limited resources and scant empirical evidence of the problem. The outcome of the Statewide Human Trafficking Mapping Project will be the development of a systematic way of determining the scope of the problem, assessing current and ongoing services and responses, and investigating unmet needs of both survivors and responders.