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County of Santa Clara Commemorates National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Supervisors, Office of Women’s Policy Deplore Crime, Recognize Coalition Working to Get Community Involved

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. –Today, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors commemorated the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. County of Santa Clara Supervisors presented a resolution to the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking, and praised the Coalition for bringing attention to one of the fastest growing forms of organized crime that generates billions of dollars and claims victims in the United States and worldwide.

”It is shocking that there could be perpetrators and victims of human trafficking in our own communities, but this is very real,” said Supervisor George Shirakawa, Chair of the Board’s Public Safety and Justice Committee. “We can help prevent and fight this horrific crime by addressing this issue, educating the public and getting involved.”

Human trafficking victims come to the United States from as far away as Korea and as nearby as Mexico. Victims are smuggled under false pretenses, deprived of their identity papers, forced to labor as domestic workers, in sweatshops or the sex trade industry, and continuously threatened to prevent them from escaping. In 2010 Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney filed and prosecuted a human trafficking case, and the defendant was convicted. The office is currently reviewing another case from 2010.

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It destroys victims and their families,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese, President of the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “We stand to defend the dignity of our fellow residents. They are someone’s child, spouse, relative, friend or neighbor. We will not tolerate exploitation for profit. As human beings we need to watch out for each other.”

To increase public awareness, the County of Santa Clara Office of Women’s Policy is providing coordination to the South Bay Coalition to identify priority activities that will raise awareness of human trafficking and promote effective collaboration in Santa Clara County. Members of the Coalition include local government and law enforcement agencies, domestic violence, sexual assault, human rights and community service organizations, and County departments such as the Office of the Sheriff, the Office of Women’s Policy, the Office of the District Attorney, the Social Services Agency Department of Families and Children’s Services and Santa Clara County Valley Medical Center. The South Bay Coalition partners with the San Jose Police Department Human Trafficking Task Force to ensure coordinated efforts to rescue and support victims and bring traffickers to justice.

At today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the Office of Women’s Policy presented samples of public service announcements and outreach materials designed to make the public aware of human trafficking. The Office of Women’s Policy is encouraging local media outlets to air PSA’s and disseminate information about the issue of human trafficking between January 11 and February 12, which President Barack Obama has proclaimed as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

“We want the public to know that they can do something if they suspect someone is a victim of trafficking,” said Esther Peralez-Dieckmann, Director of the County of Santa Clara Office of Women’s Policy. “The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to receive tips from anyone suspecting trafficking in their community, to be connected with local anti-trafficking groups in their area and to get training and technical assistance to help address and stop this deplorable crime.”

The NHTRC hotline is 1-888-373-7888.

Background

According to the United Nations, human trafficking is the process by which a person is recruited to be controlled and held captive for the purpose of exploitation.
In the United States, Human trafficking became a federal crime under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, and is investigated primarily by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE. California enacted its first anti-trafficking law, the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act (Assembly Bill 22, Lieber), in September 2005. Several states have their own laws against human trafficking. On June 22, 2007, the United States Senate approved a resolution to establish January 11 of every year to observe the National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness and other efforts to raise awareness and opposition to human trafficking.

Human Trafficking Facts

International Data

  • An estimated 12.3 million people around the world are forced into labor and sexual servitude, according to the International Labor Organization of the United Nations.
  • About 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders, according to the U.S. State Department. Of these, about 80 percent are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors. This figure does not include millions that might be trafficked domestically within their own countries.
  • An estimated 14,500-17,500 victims of human trafficking are brought into the United States each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • The majority of victims of slavery are women and children, but there has been an increase in the victimization of men as well. Traffickers prey on those who suffer most from factors like gender discrimination, family violence, and lack access to education and economic opportunity.

National Data*

  • According to CIA estimates, as many as 15,000 to 17,500 men, women and children are trafficked into the United States every year.
  • The United States is one of the top three destination points for trafficked victims, along with Japan and Australia. California, New York, Texas and Nevada are the top destination states in the country.
  • California, Florida, New York, Nevada and Ohio are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking because of factors such as: proximity to international borders, number of ports and airports, significant immigrant population, and large economy that includes industries that attract forced labor. However, slavery and trafficking can be found everywhere.
  • Los Angeles is one of the top three points of entry into this country for victims of slavery and trafficking. Immigration agents estimate that 10,000 women are being held in Los Angeles’ underground brothels; this does not include the thousands of victims in domestic work, sweatshops or other informal industries.


*Source: The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, CAST.

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Marina Hinestrosa, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5119; Esther Peralez-Dieckmann, Office of Women’s Policy (408) 299-5142
Posted: January 11, 2011