Many organizations assist international victims of trafficking who find themselves in Houston. Free the Captives’ is an anti-human trafficking nonprofit that focuses on helping American girls. Their director Julie Waters says these girls can come from anywhere.
“They’re coming from low income areas and impoverished neighborhoods but we’re also seeing girls coming from The Woodlands and Katy and Cypress even out in the suburbs girls are being trafficked.”
This may sound surprising, but what’s even more surprising says Waters, is how prevalent trafficking really is in Houston.
“If you’re going to work today, you have driven past a place where either there’s a business where women are being trafficked or there’s a neighborhood where a girl’s being trafficked. It happens in the suburbs. It’s happening in the inner city. I mean it’s all over the place. If you live in Houston, you cannot escape it.”
Waters believes that one of the ways to stop human trafficking is to take away the demand and so the focus needs to be on the men fueling this trade. Something which the city has been trying to do by publicizing the men they arrest.
“And that’s what will deter these buyers, these men. If they know that they’re going to get caught and it’s gonna be out in the news and in the public research has shown that they will not leave their homes to buy sex.”
Free the Captives aims to educate people on human trafficking but also give them an opportunity to act. The next Rice event on human trafficking is December 6th with speaker Martha Braniff who founded Child Advocates, an organization that serves abused children.