Far too often we think of human trafficking as a crime that occurs across the world in other countries, but it’s actually happening here, in our own backyard. In California, many vulnerable women and children are held against their will and forced to sell their bodies. The victims are often girls as young as 12 who are sexually exploited for the financial gain of human traffickers. They are afraid for their lives and abused – sexually, physically, and mentally.
Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery. It involves controlling a person through force, fraud, or coercion to exploit the victim for forced labor, sexual exploitation, or both. Human trafficking strips victims of their freedom and violates our nation’s promise that every person in the United States is guaranteed basic human rights. It is also a crime. According to a new report released by Attorney General Kamala Harris, sex and forced labor is a growing problem with nearly 1,800 human trafficking arrests in California over a two-year period.
The California Legislature defined human trafficking as “All acts involved in the recruitment, abduction, transport, harboring, transfer, sale or receipt of persons, within national or across international borders, through force, coercion, fraud or deception, to place persons in situations of slavery or slavery-like conditions, forced labor or services, such as forced prostitution or sexual services, domestic servitude, bonded sweatshop labor, or other debt bondage.”
Human trafficking is said to be one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world, and it’s happening right here on California’s streets and online where children are bought and sold. Three cities in California – San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego – are recognized by the FBI as high intensity child sex trafficking areas. A recent national study by a victims’ rights group gave California an “F” grade for its weak laws dealing with child sex trafficking.
Join us Wednesday, March 6th at 11:30AM at the Sizzler Restaurant [MAP], where the Greater Corona Valley Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the City of Corona, presents “Modern-Day Slavery….In Our Own Backyard” as part of the Women’s Leadership Luncheon series. Our special guest is Shawn Dredla, Human Trafficking Chair for Soroptimist International of Corona, a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern specializing in trauma, and a retired Corona Police Lieutenant. For more information, visit the Chamber website.
The 2012 election results for Proposition 35 – Human Trafficking, had overwhelming support by Riverside County voters with nearly 84% in favor and the State of California had over 81% in support. There appears to be a concern, but what can we do? Become aware of the depth of this issue and be able to recognize a woman or girl — perhaps a neighbor — who may need help getting out of a dire situation.