The lucrative business of human trafficking and the explosion of modern-day slavery were topics brought to the attention of UH students at a seminar.
UH’s Department of Residential Life and the Houston Rescue & Restore Coalition hosted “Human Trafficking Awareness: The Call for Student Activism” Thursday evening at Oberholtzer Hall.
Featured speaker MSNBC anchor Richard Liu provided statistics for the audience to illustrate the magnitude of the problem.
“There are 12.3 million people that are currently in a trafficking situation,” Liu said. “Over 50 percent involve women or children.”
He spoke of his extensive reporting on child trafficking, from brothels in Indonesia to trafficking in the fishing industry of Ghana.
Liu went undercover in Indonesia and was able to interview three young girls from the brothels for CNN.
“They are not treated as human beings — they are treated like sirloin,” Liu said.
Executive director of the Houston Rescue & Restore Coalition Maria Trujillo spoke of human trafficking happening in Houston.
“People need to know that this issue exists,” Trujillo said. “It is happening here in our very own community.”
The coalition is dedicated to bringing awareness of this issue to Houston in an effort to combat both domestic and foreign human trafficking.
In the past, the coalition has been able to place billboards and taxicab signs around the city.
“Stop human trafficking in Houston” was its first campaign slogan. “No human life should be for sale” was its second message towards fighting this problem.
Trafficking often leads persons into modern-day slavery, which is happening right now and is the second largest crime in the world today.
“We have more sexually oriented businesses in Houston per square miles than anywhere else in the US,” Trujillo said.
In addition to Houston’s human trafficking statistics, victims from foreign countries are being trafficked around the world. Many are being brought to the US.
“Foreign nationals — between 14,500 to 17,500 — are being brought into the United States every year for the purpose of being trafficked,” Trujillo said.
For further information regarding human trafficking, visit the Houston Rescue & Restore Coalition’s website at houstonrr.org.