Human Trafficking Advocacy Day was a great success in January. Joined by 30 other dedicated individuals we traveled to the Texas State Capitol to raise awareness of trafficking in our state. I was truly inspired by the number of organizations and individuals who were part of the event.
I had never been involved in advocacy efforts prior to this one. With a few phone calls, a lot of e-mails and a bit of organization, we were able to reach over 35 legislative leaders. We met on the front steps with dozens of other organizations from across the state to rally for the cause and heard from many of our state leaders who are working directly in the House and Senate to make needed changes in legislation.
You, too, can organize or join an event like this one in your city or state. Get out there and find out what's happening in your area and speak up! Search for keywords like "[your state name] trafficking advocacy efforts" to see what's happening in your area.
With fact sheets in hand we divided up our team and visited legislative offices and engaged in conversations to educate our decision makers about Trafficking in Texas and provide them with information on legislative recommendations for changes to Texas law based on the great work completed by Children at Risk (a Texas-based non-partisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of poor public policies affecting children).
Below is some of the focus areas of our discussion:
Increase prevention education in schools with a focus on gender equality, bodily autonomy, and online safety
Increase buyer diversion and education program
Provide a Set Aside for victims of human trafficking to overturn convictions for prostitution and related non-violent crimes victims committed while trafficked
Treat prostituted individuals with a victim centered approach
Decrease criminal penalties for prostituted individuals and increase exit services
End prosecution of minors for prostitution and increase holistic services for child trafficking victims to include long term health care, housing assistance and job placement