January is Human Trafficking Prevention month

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 6:49 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - In the past decade, human trafficking has become one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world, according to the American Association of University Women. The month of January is used to bring awareness to this issue.

Southern Grit Advocacy is a local nonprofit led by Executive Director Vicky Payne. She said one of their main goals is to educate the public, especially about the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling.

“Human smuggling involves crossing an international border illegally. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery which involves labor trafficking, sex trafficking and some people include organ trafficking,” Payne said.

Payne said human trafficking is often done by someone you know. The trafficker will form a relationship to exploit the victim for their own personal benefit. Although it’s still an issue, Payne said some progress has been made in the past couple of years through legislation.

“Texas is the first state to implement a law that stated that buyers of commercial sex could be charged with a felony. And so they realize and I think America realizes that we can’t just address supply which some people are tricked into it and forced into it but we also have to address demand,” Payne said.

The Wichita Falls Police Department is no stranger to this topic. Sgt. Charlie Eipper believes the laws are taking a step in the right direction by targeting solicitors.

“The ways that the state of Texas has taken some action on that is increasing the penalty on prostitution its no longer a misdemeanor it’s a felony first offense,” Sgt. Eipper said. “There’s no need for a past conviction it becomes a felony right away. It’s to help battle that because it’s all connected, so basically in the state of Texas if you’re involved in prostitution, you’re involved in human trafficking.”