Though Human Trafficking Month (January) has passed, the Houston area still remains one of the nation’s most notorious hot spots for this horrid crime.
During Human Trafficking Month, many leading anti-trafficking organizations were in full gear for the Third Annual NTZ Impact Week held here in Houston, celebrating the creation of the nation’s first “No Trafficking Zone” (NTZ) law, and making plans to take them nationwide.
Texas’ new “No Trafficking Zone” law protects K-12 students by creating a 1,000-foot NTZ around all schools. The law elevates penalties for any activity related to sex crimes against children on school campuses or at any school-related event. The “No Trafficking Zone” law resulted from Senate Bill 1831 with 100% bipartisan support in both chambers of the Texas Legislature.
“NTZ Inc. is committed to creating No Trafficking Zones throughout our community,” said NTZ president and CEO, Jacquelyn Aluotto. “Most people think trafficking is an issue in Third World countries and are unaware of the magnitude of the problem in cities and neighborhoods across the U.S. including Houston.”
Trafficking survivors Rich Love and Courtney Litvak were each trafficked out of their schools in two different area districts, in two different decades.
Love, a survivor leader, testified in Austin to help lawmakers understand the importance of the NTZ bill. Litvak, another survivor leader, has been a vocal advocate for NTZs.
“We’ve heard for far too long that my hometown of Houston, Texas is a top hub for sexual exploitation and this scourge of human trafficking,” said Litvak. “We believe our city and the great state of Texas can and will become the role model of unifying against injustice that will set the example and lead the way for our country and the world to follow.”
“NTZ Inc. has given a voice for survivors to speak freely and boldly on the real truth of what human trafficking is, not what the media has made it,” shared Love. “NTZ speaks about the harsh realities on exploitation and builds solutions alongside survivor leaders to create change and make a difference.”
“Human trafficking is human slavery, a $150 billion dollar global illicit and dehumanizing industry,” said NTZ Inc. co-founder and board member Bishop James Dixon. “Children and adults who are held captive and sold for sex, are victimized by demonized minds. NTZ is committed to the emancipation, liberation and restoration of victims.
Dixon says NTZ Inc. seeks to eradicate human trafficking by working with elected officials and municipalities, faith institutions, K-college schools, corporations and more.
That call produced results as several Houston-are entities officially became NTZ participating members and supporters, including HISD, Aldine ISD, Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, HPD Chief Troy Finner, Harris County Toll Road Authority, Mayor Turner’s Trafficking office, Houston Texans, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Unbound Houston, Children’s Assessment Center, YMCA and countless faith leaders and city, state and federal elected officials.
Along with Aluotto and Dixon, some of the attendees at a recent press conference announcing new NTZ member partners included HISD Superintendent Millard House II, State Sen. Larry Taylor, State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee, Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton and Fort Bend County Sheriff Eric Fagan.
For more information, visit NoTraffickingZone.org.
QUOTES FROM NTZ IMPACT WEEK 2022 ATTENDEES
“Together let’s stand united so that we can overcome this war of domestic terrorism that is human trafficking so that we can truly be a nation under God with liberty and justice for all.” Survivor Leader Beatrice Salyer
“I praise Jesus for the blessing of the entire NTZ team and every ally who joined arms with us for a phenomenal 2022 NTZ Impact Week. We also could not have had a more perfect host for this monumental week. What could be more fitting then everyone coming together at NRG Park, the world’s first certified “No Trafficking Zone.” Survivor Leader Courtney Litvak
“We’ve heard for far too long that my hometown of Houston, Texas is a top hub for sexual exploitation and this scourge of human trafficking. As we acknowledge Houston and Texas being top of the list of perpetuating this crime, we believe our city and the great state of Texas can and will become the role model of unifying against injustice that will set the example and lead the way for our country and the world to follow.” Survivor Leader Courtney Litvak
NTZ Impact Week 2022 reflected what true partnership and incredible collaboration should look like and the powerful impact it can accomplish. Therefore, with encouragement and excitement I ask you to imagine what our world could be like if we continue to lift each other up to strengthen innovative efforts of combating trafficking of persons by becoming one United “ No Trafficking Zone” Nation under God! Survivor Leader Courtney Litvak
“NTZ Impact Week was a powerfully orchestrated congregation of leaders that are committed to marching every last step in the battle to cripple Human Trafficking and exploitation. Now is the time for a worldwide No Trafficking Zone.” Survivor Leader Teresa J Helm
“A key piece to my dreams of being a Survivor Leader is to inspire a spark that ignites trafficking victims to recognize their value and create a wave of irrefutable self-empowerment from within.” Survivor Leader Teresa J Helm
“For myself, I will leverage my experience and meet these predators right where they’re at. I want justice now and I want justice to be the cultural standard. I pray that the co-conspirators of Jeffery Epstein Organized Crime Trafficking Network who trafficked women and girls for over thirty years be held accountable. For my case I pray my Sarah Kellen will get arrested for her crimes against me and all the other survivors.” Survivor Leader Teresa J Helm
“We need more organizations like NTZ that are really working with survivor leaders like myself to come up with creating solutions for human trafficking. We need more organizations to give Hispanic survivor leaders a voice. Our communities are being preyed upon and people do not want to discuss what that looks like.” Cynthia Rivera
“Our goal and passion is to make the world a No Trafficking Zone. Every person and every child matters. SB1831 No Trafficking Zones are a dream come true. We spent so much time at the Capitol and I just remember praying please let this bill be passed and Bishop Dixon saying, God has this.” Jacquelyn Aluotto
“A world without humanity is a world at war.” Jacquelyn Aluotto
“We must all stand together to fight for humanity.” Bishop James Dixon
HUMAN TRAFFICKING STATS, ETC.
- In Texas, 55% of survivors reported that they were first groomed or solicited on school campuses as students.
- 80% of human trafficking involves sex trafficking and 19 percent involves forced labor trafficking.
- The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state in the U.S., with 80 percent of those trafficked being female and half being children.
- The average age that a teen enters the sex trafficking trade in the U.S. is 12- to 14-years old, with many of the victims being runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
- The U.S. State Department estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year, with between 14,500 to 17,500 people being trafficked into the U.S. each year.
- Of the estimated $150 Billion world-wide income from human trafficking, an estimated $99 Billion is attributed to sex trafficking worldwide, with roughly $9.5 Billion being earned in the U.S. annually.
- State Rep. Senfronia Thompson and State Senator Larry Taylor led the call for the state’s SB 1831 No Trafficking Zone Act.
- U.S. Reps Sheila Jackson Lee, Mike McCaul and Al Green are working on NTZ federal legislation to protect schools.