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January is Human Trafficking AWARENESS Month

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January is Human Trafficking
AWARENESS Month

District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced today that this month is recognized as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.  In January 2010 President Obama instituted an annual month of awareness events on human trafficking, and Sonoma County has done so as well.

“We are tackling this crime through public awareness and education by members of the Human Trafficking Task Force,” said Ravitch.  “I’ve made the task force a priority, and have committed our resources to supporting this effort.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Bill Brockley chairs the task force, which includes representatives from Verity, Santa Rosa Police Department, Polly Klass Foundation, Crossing the Jordan, Sonoma County Human Services Department, Windsor Soroptomists, Petaluma Police Department, Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety, Sonoma County Health Services, Social Advocates for Youth, Sheriff’s Office, Junior League of Napa-Sonoma and Homeland Security. 

The task force has hosted educational opportunities for hotel and motel proprietors, and has worked collaboratively on educating the community about the presence of human trafficking, including funding the placement of five billboards throughout the county.

Statistics regarding human trafficking are astounding and indicate that millions of victims exist, and that this form of human slavery is not declining.  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that each year 100,000 children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation in the United States.  Locally, the law enforcement community has partnered with advocacy groups to conduct operations targeting purchasers and providers of prostitution.  Underage children were rescued from being sexually exploited and solicitors were arrested and prosecuted. 

“We have increased the number of cases filed since the task force was reinvigorated,” said Ravitch.  “Through this collaborative effort we are saving lives and holding those who traffic these victims accountable.” 

The Santa Rosa City Council proclaimed January 2015 as Human Trafficking Awareness Month at its meeting on January 6, 2015.  On January 13, 2015 the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will issue a Resolution recognizing Human Trafficking Awareness Month.  Billboards, which are funded by members of the task force, are visible along the 101 Corridor throughout Sonoma County. 

Human Trafficking targets young girls

11 FACTS about Human Trafficking:

1. Globally, the average cost of a slave is $90.

2. Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography.

3. According to some estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.

4. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.

5. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. More than 70% are female and half are children.

6. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.

7. California harbors 3 of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas on the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.

8. The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state in the US. 15% of those calls are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

9. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year.

10. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries.

11. The International Labour Organization estimates that women and girls represent the largest share of forced labor victims with 11.4 million trafficked victims (55%) compared to 9.5 million (45%) men.