Skip to Content

Supply Chains and Labor Exploitation


Dr. Melissa Irene Maldonado TorresSupply Chains and Slavery: Analyzing TexasApril 11, 2019Brazos Hall | 11:00 am

Melissa Torres | Supply Chain


Despite what we understand to be the abolition of slavery in the United States, trafficking of humans for the purposes of sex work and exploited labor has emerged as a major criminal and social justice issue, both in the United States and abroad. Dr. Torres has been advocating for a social justice and human rights lens on labor policies and researching the range of exploitation in labor markets and the intersection with vulnerable populations. Her studies have analyzed and identified processes, players, and institutions that maintain and foment forced labor in the U.S. and along the Mexican border and their impact on marginalized populations. Recognized internationally for her work with migrants, women, and survivors of human trafficking, Torres will discuss the place of social work in eradicating slavery in Texas, 153 years after its most recent abolition.

Dr. Melissa Irene Maldonado Torres is director of the Human Trafficking Research Portfolio, which is a joint research initiative with the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (IDVSA) at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and the Bureau for Business Research at the IC2 Institute. She oversees the Statewide Human Trafficking Mapping Project for Texas, a research initiative funded through the Criminal Justice Division of the Office of the Governor to provide empirically-grounded data about the extent of human trafficking in Texas. She received her Masters of Social Work and Ph.D. at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, where she is co-founder of the Latin American Initiative. Torres served as the subject matter expert on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ healthcare professional’s response to human trafficking program, an initiative of President Obama’s Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims. Torres has been recognized by the U.S. Congress with a Certification of Congressional Recognition for her presentation to the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. She is a native of the Rio Grande Valley and was raised along the U.S.-Mexico border.


Dr. Torres will also be be taking part in:

Recognizing Forced Labor Around Us:
Supply Chains and Labor Exploitation in the Southwest

April 11, 2019 | 6:30 pm
Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, 211 Lee Street
San Marcos, Texas

Both a lecture and workshop, Dr. Torres will offer practical and visionary ways to recognize and dislodge forced labor in our midst.