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County of Santa Clara Proclaims January Human Trafficking Awareness Month

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – A 2012 report by the United Nation’s International Labor Organization indicates that 20.9 million people are victims of trafficking and human slavery in the world.   A congressional Research Service indicates that as many as 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year and that approximately 100,000 American children are victims of trafficking within the United States.
Today, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors proclaimed January 2013 Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
“Human trafficking is a very serious problem,” said President Ken Yeager, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors.  “We all share the responsibility to advocate for millions of women, children and men that every year are directly impacted by this heinous crime.”
Just last December U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations identified 123 victims of child sexual exploitation during an international operation that aimed at rescuing victims and targeting individuals who own, trade and produce images of child pornography.  Federal agents arrested 245 individuals, rescued 44 children from their abusers, and identified 79 as being abused outside of their home.  Of the 123 victims, 110 were identified in 19 U.S. states, including California and some in San Jose.
“Human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery and our own Bay Area is a vulnerable destination point because of its major harbors and airports, and its large immigrant population,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Dave Cortese, who presented today’s Proclamation.  We praise local efforts to defend the fundamental rights and dignity of all human beings and to warn traffickers that they will be punished for this despicable crime.”
This month, a committee formed by the Catholic Diocese of San Jose and other Community Based Organizations and law enforcement agencies committed to raise awareness about human trafficking.  The County is an active partner in the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking (SBCEHT), which created the human trafficking protocols currently used by law enforcement and services providers.
“We are building strong collaborations to educate about the permanent damage this crime causes to women, men and families,” said County of Santa Clara Office of Women’s Policy Esther Peralez-Dieckmann. “Additional resources to combat this problem are very much needed and we welcome the public’s support to bring attention to our efforts and help us put an end to human trafficking.” 
The South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking is one of 40 victim-centered human trafficking task forces funded jointly by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime. Since 2005, the SBCEHT has coordinated the collaborative effort among law enforcement, human trafficking victim services agencies, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to identify and rescue victims of trafficking in persons and successfully prosecute traffickers. Efforts to address human trafficking are supported by additional collaboratives, including the City of San Jose Police Department Human Trafficking Task Force and the Diocese of San Jose’s Human Trafficking Coalition.
Last November, the County’s Office of Women’s Policy co-sponsored with the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking regional training for over 200 attorneys and advocates on criminal and civil human trafficking cases, EEOC cases and public benefits.
According to the United Nations, human trafficking is the process by which a person is recruited, 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.
Human Trafficking Facts
According to reports from the United Nation’s International Labor Organization and the U.S. Department of Justice:
·         There are 20.9 million victims of trafficking and human slavery throughout the world,
·         9.1 million victims have been trafficked internally or internationally,
·         11.8 million are subject to a form of modern slavery within their own national boarders
·         children aged 17 and below represent 26 percent of the total victims, 5.5 million child victims worldwide
·         An estimated 12.3 million people around the world are forced into labor and sexual servitude.
·         About 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders. 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. 
·         Approximately17,500 victims of human trafficking are brought into the United States each year.
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.
About the Santa Clara County Office of Women’s Policy:
Developed in the spirit of cooperation between the County and the community, the Office of Women’s Policy was created to identify and address current and emerging issues for women and girls challenging our community today, and promote special programs and activities to support and encourage the success of women and girls in all aspects of society. The office is the focal point to enhance collaboration among women’s organizations, and complement local advocacy efforts through a focus on education, effective public policy implementation, and systems and institutional reform to better serve women and girls.
About The South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking (SBCEHT)
The South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking is the local effort that responds to human trafficking in Santa Clara County. Through a victim-centered approach we are strengthening local capacity to respond to and identify human trafficking survivors.  Anyone who might have encountered a victim of human trafficking can call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.
Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Marina Hinestrosa, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5119; Esther Peralez-Dieckmann, SCC Office of Women’s Policy (408) 299-5142; Perla Flores, South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking (408) 644-9774
Posted:  January 15, 2013