In recent years, state leaders have turned their attention to the issue of human trafficking. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently proclaimed January to be Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and a a new exhibit at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin aims to shed more light on the subject. The exhibit is called “Not Alone: Working Together in the Fight Against Human Trafficking.”
Margaret Koch is director of the Bullock Museum. She told Texas Standard that the exhibit, which is suitable for teens and adults, attempts to answer several questions related to human trafficking.
“We looked at what are the basic questions people have about this,” Koch said. “So, what is human trafficking? We help people understand at a very basic level what that is: it’s when someone uses your body, or your free work, to make money for themselves.”
Other questions about trafficking addressed by the exhibit include: who does trafficking affect, and why are relationships so important in preventing trafficking?
“[The] fourth questions we looked at is, What role does social media play? It has its pros and cons,” Koch said. “It can make people more vulnerable because traffickers can exploit the vulnerabilities that they may see in the way that someone responds on Twitter or Facebook. But it can also be a way out for people who are in the midst of trafficking.”
Koch credits trafficking survivors and advocates for sharing their experiences honestly.
“In this exhibition, in a very safe space, you don’t just take our word for what trafficking is, and what you can do to fight against it,” she said. “You’re listening to people who actually lived through it.”
Teens can take home activities from the exhibit that help young people see how they can fight against trafficking, Koch says.
“Even if you’re 14 years old, you can help your friends,” Koch said. “You can help create that healthy relationship that supports them.”
Koch says statistics show that up to 300,000 Texans are being affected by trafficking at any given time.
The exhibit will be open through May 30.