Free the Captives: Fighting Human Trafficking in Houston

The Problem:

Sex trafficking thrives in Houston because there are so many buyers seeking to purchase sex from young girls and women. The buyers are fueling the sex trade by creating a demand for exploited girls and women.

The Solution: The "Reducing the Demand" Campaign

Since the launch of this campaign in October 2011, Free the Captives has been pleased with the response and results. There has been an increase in the arrests of buyers in Houston. Additionally, communities and churches have become increasingly aware of the atrocity of human trafficking in Houston and have applied tremendous and effective pressure on public officials to arrest the buyers. The efforts have been focused on Mayor Annise Parker, District Attorney Pat Lykos, Chief of Police Charles McClelland, Jr., and Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.

This pressure has garnered media exposure and responses from state and local officials. Below are the phases of the campaign, the responses and results from officials, and how you can get involved. Your involvement truly can make a difference.

  • Phase 1: Letters to Houston Government Officials and Their Response, October 2011
  • Phase 2: Letters to Governor Perry, February 2012
  • Phase 3: Mail the "Keys to Freedom" to Houston Government Officials, April 1, 2012 - August 2012
  • Phase 4: Officer Appreciation for Arresting Buyers - Mail Your Letters Today, September 2012 - current
  • Phase 5 - Volunteer for the Marketing Campaign to Educate Buyers about Sex Trafficking, November 2012 - current

What You Can Do:

     1. Sign up to be a Reducing the Demand Rep, and you will get the latest news on each phase of the campaign.

     2. If you are new to this campaign, join in on the current phase and spread the word to your community about how they can fight for freedom.

LATEST ARRESTS OF BUYERS:

January 2012: Sheriff Garcia arrested 8 buyers.

August 2012: Sheriff Garcia arrested 13 buyers, and the Houston Police Department arrested 8 buyers.

    


Information on Buyers and Effective Deterrents*

 
The Buyers:

  • 61% of the buyers in a Boston study had girlfriends and wives.
  • Almost ALL of the buyers knew where to buy minor children for prostitution.
  • 66% of buyers observed that the majority of women were lured, tricked, or trafficked into prostitution. THIS KNOWLEDGE FAILED TO DETER THEM FROM BUYING SEX.
  • In the Boston study, 22% of the buyers had at least one felony conviction, compared to 8% of the male non-buyers. Likewise, 23% of the buyers had at least one misdemeanor conviction, compared to 10% of non-buyers.
 
The Deterrents:

  • Research shows that the BUYERS consider public exposure and jail time as some of the most effective deterrents.  See the chart above listing the twelve deterrents and their effectiveness.  Currently, few buyers in Houston are being taken into custody and arrested.
  • Houston lags behind Dallas and Fort Worth in focusing on the demand.  Either currently or in the past, the Dallas, Fort Worth, Waco, and Arlington police departments have websites that list the buyers’ names and photos for solicitation of prostitution.  See http://www.fortworthpd.com/safety/john-tv.aspx
  • In 1995, Sweden began to criminalize the buyers (not the women and girls) and saw a dramatic decrease in street prostitution.  Due to greater fines, public exposure, and jail time, the buyers ceased purchasing women and girls AND traffickers no longer found it profitable to traffic women into Sweden.  Reduce the demand; reduce the supply.
 
*This campaign is based on extensive research about the buyers from the Boston and Chicago studies.

 

Research on the Buyers & Most Effective Deterrents:

2011 Study on Boston Buyers

• “Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don't Buy Sex”
• Conducted by Melissa Farley of the Prostitution Research and Education

2007 Study on Chicago Buyers

•“Deconstructing The Demand for Prostitution: Preliminary Insights From Interviews With Chicago Men Who Purchase Sex”
• Conducted by Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation

Top Deterrents to buying Sex as noted from the Buyers*:

Boston  Buyers

Chicago Buyers

Scotland  Buyers

Overall Percentage

Rank

Order

Added to sex offender registry

88%

92%

89%

89%

 1

Photo/name in newspaper

82%

87%

84%

84%

 2

Photo/name on a billboard

84%

83%

86%

84%

 2

Time in jail or prison

80%

83%

79%

82%

 3

Photo/name on Internet

84%

82%

78%

82%

 3

Letter sent to family members

88%

79%

77%

80%

 4

Suspension of driver‘s license

73%

76%

NA

78%

 5

Greater criminal penalty

70%

75%

72%

75%

 6

Car impounded

71%

70%

70%

74%

 7

Greater monetary fine

66%

68%

69%

72%

 8

Community service

57%

58%

NA

47%

 9

Attend educational program/John School

38%

41%

56%

47%

 9


*This data is from the 2011 Study on Boston Buyers.