When people hear the term human trafficking, they often think of it as a reality in distant, dark corners of the world. The fact is, this evil practice has also become more prevalent in the United States in recent years. Although victims are sometimes brought here from other countries, there are also many people in our cities who are becoming victims.
Texas is ranked second on the list of states with the highest human trafficking numbers, and our own backyard, Dallas, is second in the state. Some statistics estimate there being more than 200,000 human trafficking victims in Texas at any given time.
The horrors of human trafficking and those at risk are the same no matter the country. Those at highest risk include women from abusive relationships, youth who do not have strong family support, and those who are considered poor. Although abductions do take place, more often it is those in these vulnerable categories that are manipulated and ensnared into this dark world.
The terrifying effects for victims include:
*The high risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases or infections.
*A greater risk of infertility in young girls and women.
*Various forms of mental disorders and psychological effects.
*Physical, mental, and emotional trauma.
Despite this disheartening reality, there are many groups and individuals working hard to fight this evil. Dallas-Fort Worth area nonprofit Allies in Youth Development is one organization preventing human trafficking in other countries by mentoring orphans and helping single mothers.
Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn is an advocate for Allies in Youth Development and this important cause. He and his wife know firsthand the struggles that orphans face in Russia and Eastern Europe because they adopted four boys from Russian orphanages. “Russian and Eastern European orphans are prime targets for human traffickers,” Sheriff Waybourn said. “As Allies works to save orphans in these areas, not only are these youngsters given the opportunity for abundant life, they are no longer susceptible to traffickers.”
Sheriff Waybourn added one of the threats in Texas is increased crime due to human trafficking. “As the work of Allies puts more and more children on the road to success, it decreases the flow of trafficked children and young adults to Texas,” he said. “This is good for Texas. This is good for all of us.”
Prevention lessens the probability of more victims being brought to the United States, but even more importantly, another life is saved from this darkness.
Contributed by: Heather Dunnaville
Allies in Youth Development