As it is known, human trafficking thrives in chaos. The current global health crisis COVID-19 has created an even more vulnerable environment for people to be exploited by traffickers. Between schools closing, dramatic increases in unemployment and reductions of income, many major cities, like Texas, are seeing heightened risks of exploitation among its residents.
According to a report from The Human Trafficking Institute, Texas ranked first in the nation for the number of criminal cases that wound their way through federal courts last year. Of those 74 cases, 68 involved sex trafficking. California and Florida are the second and third states with the highest incidents of sex trafficking, and the numbers keep growing.
With these numbers reaching an all-time high, a local Houston coffee shop known as “A 2nd Cup” revamped its store front into a “Pandemic Pantry” dedicated to fighting human trafficking, says the Houston Chronicle in an article May 14.
With Houston being known as a hub for human trafficking, this coffee shop is directly linked to the cities growing epidemic.
With their shop covered in educational information, their focus is aimed towards informing its customers on the ongoing issue in the heart of their home. Their mission is to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking, partner with other anti-trafficking groups to engage the public to take action, and to invest in aftercare services for survivors.
The store is now known as the “Pandemic Pantry” offering everything from toilet paper, to hand sanitizer, to soaps, and other household cleaning items, alongside flour, fair trade sugar, yeast, and other items.
Stores like “A 2nd Cup” are taking steps in the right direction, with proceeds going toward aftercare solutions for survivors. Likewise, Selah Freedom partnered and trained Houston Police Department in 2016 during the Super Bowl to combat sex trafficking. We applaud the efforts of both the police department as well as private businesses in Houston to join forces in an effort to eradicate sex trafficking nationwide.
If you are interested in learning more about how COVID-19 is affecting the human trafficking market, visit our previous posts to learn more:
COVID-19 pandemic heightens online risk for our youth