AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Starting Jan. 1, all salons and massage parlors across the state will have to update signage in their businesses aiming to crack down on human trafficking.
“It’s important to recognize the red flags, and also to know who to call,” Susanne Crane, a SAFE Cares advocacy manager, said. She’s glad the state is requiring a new number to be included in human trafficking signs featured in cosmetology businesses across the state.
Previously, the sign only had a DPS hotline for victims to call and report. Now, there will also be a number for anyone to call to report suspicious activity: 1 (888) 373-7888.
“Someone who has, who’s being human trafficked may not have access to a phone, or they may not call, which is why having this number for DPS, where someone who is maybe not being trafficked, but they see a situation and they think there’s something not right…this number provides them with an outlet for that,” Tela Mange, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations, explained.
The state says these businesses – nail salons and massage parlors in particular – are some of the areas where trafficking happens most.
Crane points out, though, salons also provide workers a glimpse into customers’ personal lives.
“Beauty workers may have closer relationships, and they may notice things and signs that, you know, the public generally wouldn’t see. Bruising, injuries that are hidden by clothing, or hair…one person paying for multiple services for different clients in those businesses,” Crane said.
Before working for a trafficking survivor advocacy group, she used to be a hairdresser, and wishes she had a number to call to report.
“A particular survivor, who was in my chair, getting her hair done, had bruising on the scalp underneath the hair, and was talking freely about her abuser…I would have liked to have been able to speak with her about, you know, different options,” Crane explained.
“If your little voice says, ‘I don’t know, this doesn’t seem right, doesn’t feel right,’ report that,” Mange said.
TDLR also says equally important – is if you enter one of these businesses, and don’t see this sign.
If you can’t see the sign, you’re asked to report that to TDLR.