January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Human Trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion in exchange for labor, services, or a commercial sex act. Texas has the second highest number of trafficking cases in the country. Throughout the month, the Austin Police Department in partnership with other city departments is coordinating a series of actions to create awareness and help combat human and labor trafficking in Austin.
This collaboration aims to inform and educate residents and city employees on how to recognize the signs and report human and labor trafficking to law enforcement. Events being held will highlight organizations, programs and services that support victims and survivors of human trafficking.
To kickoff the Human Trafficking Awareness Month initiative, the Austin Police Department and several partners are hosting a virtual press conference at 11 a.m., on Jan. 12, 2021 on ATXN2. This event will include survivors of human trafficking as well as organizations that provide resources and support services to victims. These partners include:
- The APD Human Trafficking Unit – In partnership with various other law enforcement entities, this team works to identify victims and prosecute traffickers through proactive and reactive investigations.
- Sanctuary Project - A nonprofit social enterprise that offers employment and job training to women who have survived lives of trafficking, violence and addiction.
- Refugee Services of Texas - Refugee Services of Texas welcomes refugees, asylees, survivors of trafficking and other displaced peoples, and supports them in integrating and thriving in their new communities.
- The Safe Alliance - The SAFE Alliance is a merger of Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace, both long-standing and respected human service agencies in Austin serving the survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence.
- Allies Against Slavery - Specializes in using human trafficking data with their software, “Lighthouse.” Lighthouse helps partner organizations understand trends in human trafficking, spot victims of exploitation, and coordinate quality care.
The APD Human Trafficking Unit will offer City of Austin departments internal education through a documentary-style production titled, “Bound To Be Free,” which will focus on modern-day slavery including the forced labor and sex industry and exploitation of children. The video will demonstrate how human trafficking is taking place in our modern times and proves that these incidents can happen anywhere and to anyone. Staff will learn how to recognize the signs of human trafficking and how to help potential victims.
Throughout January the City of Austin and the Austin Police Department will share educational information on social media platforms to increase public awareness of human trafficking statistics, how to help, and available resources. You are invited to visit our resource page for additional information.