Last week I had the privilege to be a voice for Human Trafficking at the Orange County Fair in Santa Ana, California.... I was not surprised to learn that many people had no idea what human trafficking was... I did not know until recently.. I did not know that Human Trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry.. I did not know that Human Trafficking is the 2nd largest criminal activity.... did you?
Human trafficking is described as using violence or threats to coerce a person to work or perform sexual acts. Many of the victims are from Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe... The traffickers will trick or force the victims into the United States... When the immigrants arrive - all their documents are taken and they can be physically or emotionally abused.... Unfortunately, these victims are afraid to go to the police - thinking that they will be arrested for being here illegally...
There are many industries that you can find human trafficking in Orange County - or any affluent US city or town.... include massage parlors, gentleman's clubs, nail salons, and many factories... Servitude and commercial sex are very profitable in these affluent areas - where there is a lot of disposable income...
Finding victims is very difficult..... We need to learn how to look for the signs of abuse.... The best defense against human trafficking lies in the hands of the general public... Many rescue cases are the result of residents reporting unusual activity followed by a police investigation. Recently a wealthy couple in Irvine, CA were arrested for enslaving a 12 year old Egyptian girl in their home and forced her to work as a servant. Community involvement is so important... All you need to do is call and report it and then you're done, you've done your part... the rest is up to the police...
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act, passed in 2000, was the first legislation to make modern-day slavery a federal crime with very harsh penalties for the offender..
Identifying human trafficking victims
Here are some tips from the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force on how to find and report someone you think may be a victim.
Signs to look for:Victims appear to be controlled, someone talks for them, they can't leave their jobs or they appear fearful and upset.
Report it:If something appears unusual, residents are encouraged to call the task force hot line at 888-3737-888. Calls can be anonymous.
What happens next: The task force assigns a victim manager who will review the case and help provide shelter, legal services and medical attention.
By the numbers
Here's a look at human trafficking numbers in Orange County, nationally and worldwide.
Victims worldwide: 600,000-800,000
U.S. victims: 14,500-17,500
California victims:Estimated at nearly 600
Orange County victims: 39 reported
To see a dramatic video of human trafficking here in our backyard - please visit the following link.