HUMAN TRAFFICKING - 2014
The League of Women Voters of Texas is opposed to all forms of domestic and international human trafficking of adults and children, including sex trafficking and labor trafficking. We consider human trafficking to be a form of modern-day slavery and support measures to prevent the use of force, fraud or coercion to exploit a person for sexual or labor purposes, to prosecute traffickers and to protect victims.
Federal, state and local governments should collaborate to fund and implement effective strategies for prosecution, including but not limited to:
- Enact and enforce effective laws against traffickers
- Require human trafficking training for law enforcement officers and prosecutors
- Maintain and share reliable trafficking data among all levels of government and with non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
- Put convicted sex traffickers of children on the National Sex Offender Registry list
- Enforce civil and criminal penalties against persons who knowingly buy services provided as a result of human trafficking, or buy services from a minor, including mandated awareness training
- Enact and enforce laws at the appropriate level to shut down businesses that engage in or allow human trafficking Divert victims of human trafficking into justice and rescue programs that provide access to services such as counseling and job training
- Assume all minors are victims, no proof of coercion required.
Federal, state and local governments, in cooperation with nongovernmental agencies, should fund and provide essential services to and remedies for victims and survivors, including but not limited to:
- Legal aid, translations and other court-related services
- Services to shelter victims from their traffickers and help them return to a normal life, such as housing, medical, counseling, job training
- Ability to sue the trafficker for civil damages
- Defined roles for child welfare system and juvenile justice system in assisting trafficked minors
- Guardianship, protective custody and safe houses for trafficked minors when home situation would put the minor at risk.
Federal, state and local governments, in cooperation with nongovernmental agencies, should fund and provide education and awareness programs on human trafficking in our communities and schools, including but not limited to:
- Training to identify and assist victims or potential victims of human trafficking, for all persons who might come into contact with them, such as medical professionals, law enforcement and prosecution personnel, educators at all levels, mental health professionals, city health inspectors, hotel owners and others
- Internet safety education for youth, parents and teachers
- Services and outreach for homeless, throwaway youth and other at-risk populations.
Focus: Study the issue of human trafficking in Texas to understand state and local policies as well as the public's role in abating human trafficking.
- Understand the nature and definition of human trafficking;
- Consider its extent in Texas;
- Explore how to reduce its occurrence, including considering state and local laws and their enforcement;
- Assess the components of social services for victims to rescue and restore their lives.
Explanation: This study was recommended by the LWV-Houston Area and six other Leagues. In 2011, LWV-Houston Area completed a study on human trafficking, defined as exploiting persons through force, fraud, or coercion, for the purposes of sex, labor or other involuntary acts. Other local Leagues are also studying this issue. Texas is a part of a national and international problem, and it is an issue that all Leagues need to understand so we can act with one voice as we advocate on state laws pertaining to this issue.
Study Committee: Penny Milbouer (Houston Area), Co-Chair; Ann Herbage (Houston Area),Co-Chair; Meg Scott Johnson (Kerrville Area), Peggy Downing (Tyler/Smith County), Janice Schieffer (LWV-TX Program VP, ex-officio).
- 2012-2013: Research by the committee. Local Leagues may hold forums to educate members and the public about human trafficking issues.
- Summer 2013: Facts & Issues published and consensus questions approved by LWV-TX.
- Fall 2013: Local Leagues reach consensus and report to LWV-TX Board.
- Winter 2014: Position statement announced and adopted at Convention 2014.