AUSTIN, Texas — July 30 is "World Day Against Trafficking in Persons," proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly.
According to the U.N., every year thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad.
In June, KVUE published a report by the Human Trafficking Institute that found Texas ranks first in the nation for active human trafficking cases.
Out of the 74 criminal human trafficking cases that made their way through federal courts in Texas in 2018, 68 involved sex trafficking and six involved labor trafficking.
Texas also ranks first for the number of new criminal human trafficking cases in 2018, with 19 initiated cases – well above the national average of five new cases per state or territory.
Also in June, Governor Greg Abbott signed new legislation to combat human trafficking and eliminate the rape kit backlog:
- Senate Bill 20 enhances tolls to fight online sex trafficking, increases the penalties for buyers and creates a process for victims to clear their records of certain offenses committed solely as a victim of trafficking.
- House Bill 8 tackles the rape kit backlog by requiring an audit of untested kits, establishing timelines for results to be submitted and extending the statute of limitations.
- House Bill 1590 creates a Sexual Assault Survivors' Task Force within the Office of the Governor to catalog services, identify gaps and coordinate efforts across Texas to strategically address sexual assault.
- House Bill 2613 directs forfeited proceeds from stash houses to services that aid victims of human trafficking.
- Senate Bill 71 establishes a statewide telehealth center to expand victim access to specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners.
For the 2019 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is focusing on highlighting the importance of government action in the interest of victims of trafficking.
World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is an internationally recognized day. The U.S. has a "National Human Trafficking Awareness Day" in January.
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