Human trafficking is the exploitation of a person (for labor or commercial sex) through the use of force, fraud or coercion.
Why is this important and what does it have to do with me? First, it is a human rights violation that exploits vulnerabilities in people who cannot otherwise fend for themselves. It impacts men, women and children of all ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. And, it is a known problem right here in Houston.
Dr. Rebecca Pfeffer, now at the RTI International; an independent, nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition is currently working with the Harris County District Attorney's Office on a project to change the way we respond to prostitution cases here in Houston. Professor Pfeffer recently completed research commissioned by the Houston Police Department to analyze the characteristics of prostitution arrests that could be better categorized as incidents of human trafficking. A misclassification may wrongly identify victims as offenders and miss an opportunity to connect victims with safety and proper community resources.
Part of Dr. Pfeffer's ongoing work into Human Trafficking involves taking students (and other interested faculty and staff) on bus tours to show them locations of known human trafficking incidents in Houston. Many people state they go by these same areas every day and had no clue this was happening in plain sight.
In an effort to educate the public, Dr. Pfeffer and her students in CJ4390 created this pamphlet which was then distributed at various university events. This pamphlet can be downloaded and given to anyone who is interested.