Human trafficking revealed: a case study of a Texas county's campaign to fight sex trafficking




Morales, Joseluis T.

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Over the last fifteen years, there has been a dramatic increase in attention to the global phenomenon of human sex trafficking. Misconceptions about this issue affect social policy, and in many ways, make the enforcement of laws against trafficking, which are also designed to assist and identify victims, an almost futile feat. The state of Texas is viewed as a potential "hotspot" for trafficking activity most notably due to its geographical location. The first major city in Texas, north of the Texas/Mexico border, is San Antonio, Texas, significant in both geographic space and population. This thesis set out to answer three primary research questions: How do frontline workers within San Antonio perceive the training they have received regarding sex trafficking? How do these frontline workers perceive individuals involved in sex trafficking? And how does the language used by these workers to describe individuals involved in sex trafficking compare to the discourse used in legal case proceedings? Using qualitative interviewing techniques, responses provided by anti-trafficking frontline personnel were assessed. Law enforcement, social service case managers, and a non-governmental social worker received different levels of training, and all possessed inconsistent perspectives on how the issue of sex trafficking should be approached. In addition, a legally prosecuted sex trafficking case from the area suggests that testimony and dialogue within this formal forum further perpetuates stereotypes regarding sex trafficked victims, contributing to the negative images of victims perpetuated by society.


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Human Trafficking, Labeling, Law Enforcement, Secondary Victimization, Sex Trafficking, Social Work